PromaxBDA Winners: General Branding/Image

WGRZ Buffalo, N.Y. took the Gold for its “WGRZ Storm Team 2 Ready for Winter” campaign. The Silver was won by WNBC New York's "The Now." And KMSP Minneapolis captured the Bronze for its "We're Big Fans of Our Viewers" series of 17 spots.

Winters in Buffalo — blizzards, white-outs, lake-effect snowstorms. Need I say more? Not a place for the feint of heart.

“Buffalo is a weather market,” says Larry Watzman, director of marketing and creative services for WGRZ, the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate in the market (DMA 52).That reality is behind the NBC affiliate’s “WGRZ Storm Team 2 Ready for Winter” campaign, which won the Gold PromaxBDALocal Award for 2013 in the General Branding/Image Campaign category.

The award was among 156 announced in 54 categories two weeks ago at the PromaxBDA Station Summit in Las Vegas. Runners-up in the General Branding/Image Campaign category were WNBC New York (Silver) and Fox’s KMSP Minneapolis (Bronze). We’ll be looking at winners in other selected categories in the weeks ahead.

With winter coming, the WGRZ campaign took a minimalist approach to ask whether viewers were ready.

WGRZ Storm Team, Red Coat

“People already know what to do here to be ready for winter,” Watzman says. “We were tired of seeing the ‘Doppler-this or Storm Team-that’ type promos. We wanted to do something different to remind viewers.”


WGRZ Storm Team, Snowblower

Watzman says “the weather can change on a dime in Buffalo” so it’s important to own the weather coverage franchise there. “WGRZ has been certified as having the most accurate weather forecasts in Buffalo for nine years running according to WeatheRate,” he adds. WeatheRate bills itself as the only independent weather forecast verification company in the United States.

WGRZ Storm Team, Snowman


Watzman says he was thrilled for his staff, his station and Gannett when he heard WGRZ had won the gold award, especially for the approach the creative took to win.

“When everyone else is screaming, it’s OK to whisper,”

WGRZ is the No. 1 choice for local news in Buffalo, according to Watzman.

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When Melissa Crawford, VP of marketing for NBC-owned WNBC, wanted an over-arching news campaign, she turned to a West Coast ad agency to help brainstorm some concepts.

“Whatever it was, it had to be a concept that we could produce in house, and change as circumstances dictate,” Crawford says. “It had to have a lot of legs.”

The Silver-winning concept is called “The Now.”

“New York is fast-paced,” Crawford says, “so we wanted a campaign that felt big city, and had an urgent, up-to-the-minute feel to it.”

According to the campaign, The Now is unexpected and unpredictable, often tricky. It confuses and changes fast. It can be here before you know it, and can catch you off guard. It can come out of nowhere and create chaos.

In my opinion, The Now campaign creates a thirst for news, specifically WNBC News.

What I like about the campaign is its straight-forward approach. The concept is interesting enough to hold my attention, and it makes its points convincingly. I like the use of clips from the news to bolster and substantiate claims it makes. It’s not over-produced and it has a smart, sophisticated feel to it. A simple idea, well-executed.

The Now campaign features spots that promote the morning news as well as the 11pm news. It addresses franchises like breaking news and investigative. It promotes WNBC’s weather coverage by season.

WNBC, The Now Campaign

Citing the use of clips from news and weather anchors and reporters on the street, “the spots are part POP (proof of performance) and part image,” Crawford says. Those clips, although recreated to add camera movement and dramatic lighting, used the exact same lines verbatim from various newscasts to maintain integrity, according to Crawford.

The footage used in the spots was either shot by the station or taken from air-checks of its newscasts. The music in each spot of the campaign is different, the cuts taken from the Killer Tracks and VideoHelper production music libraries.

“Our team has worked hard to strike the right balance between effectively communicating our station’s brand message while ensuring the creative is fresh, relevant and memorable to our viewers,” Crawford said in a press release.  

According to Crawford, research revealed that viewers like The Now campaign and cited it as a reason to watch.

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The headline for this next award winner should be “News anchors caught together in hot tub.”

The campaign was mentioned by the entertainment  reporter for the Star Ledger in Minneapolis as “brilliant and charming, especially the one with the fan in the hot tub who receives an unexpected visit from anchors Karen Scullin and Tom Halden, in a suit, who both get wet for the cause.”

I think I can say that this is the first and only local TV news promo that features an anchor team in a hot tub.

KMSP earned the Bronze for its “We’re Big Fans of Our Viewers” campaign.

Scott Brady, VP of creative services for KMSP, says the campaign had 17 spots featuring all the morning, evening and weekend news talent, and that none of the spots could air until all were finished so as not to ruin the surprise.

KMSP, We’re Big Fans of Our Viewers campaign:

The talent testimonial campaign with a surprise twist at the end started with a query to the station’s Facebook friends that asked, who is your favorite on-air news personality?

Kevin Myers, KMSP’s senior creative producer, says they used testimonials because “the audience has less tolerance for boasting in news promos, they have their radar up for authenticity. We needed real people.”

The overall branding of the station is “Stay Connected.” Brady says the station has strong news ratings partly because its on-air personalities are extremely interactive with viewers.

“The spots took a lot of planning because of all the locations at coffee shops, restaurants, and hot tubs around town,” Myers says.

Brady says the station benefited from added exposure “on another platform when the people in the spots shared the video with their Facebook friends.”

The station has seen news ratings growth year to year since the campaign began airing, according to Brady, especially the evening news.

Market Share by Paul Greeley is all about marketing and promotion at TV stations and appears every Monday. Read other Market Share columns here. If you have some ideas or stories you want to share, please let me know. You can reach Paul Greeley at [email protected] or at 817-578-6324.

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