WMAQ News Promos Marry Talent, Content

When Chicago’s NBC O&O overhauled its approach to morning news, Diane Hannes, VP of creative services, and her team crafted a multi-part campaign that introduced the new team, explained the scope and pace of the coverage and tied it all in with the station’s other news broadcasts.

A perfect storm is developing in Chicago. Not the meteorological kind, but the kind where “news content and talent come together” to lift the morning news ratings according to Diane Hannes, VP of creative services for WMAQ, the NBC O&O.

About a year ago, WMAQ began re-tooling its morning news by bringing in new news anchors Stefan Holt (son of NBC News anchor Lester Holt) and Daniella Guzman. In July, it added traffic reporter Kye Martin. Only veteran Chicago weather man Andy Avalos remained from the previous team.

Frank Whittaker, WMAQ’s VP of News says the changes didn’t stop there. “We refocused our content to concentrate on news, weather and traffic because research told us that’s what viewers want in the morning.”

It was up to Hannes’ department to promote the changes. The first two spots of the campaign hit in mid-summer. “The first spot in purely introductory,” says Hannes, who’s been at WMAQ for more than 9 years. We wanted folks to get used to the new personalities they’d be waking up to each morning.”

WMAQ: NBC 5 Chicago Morning News Spot 1

The line, “up to the minute, the minute you’re up” is consistent throughout the campaign. Hannes says it captures the urgency viewers feel as they get ready for their day.


“There’s an economy of time going on in the morning; every minute counts.”

Whittaker says the phrase it also indicative of the news content itself. “It’s more high energy. We’ve added a reporter and crew. So there are more stories and live reports. We got back to a more meat and potatoes news coverage.”

He adds that he wanted the morning news “to live up to the news brand when people see that NBC peacock.”

Whittaker says that since Comcast took over NBC two years ago, the influence has been dramatic. “Comcast has a love of local news. We have more people, more resources on the street, and a new look and feel.

“The second spot of the campaign reflects not only the pace of the show,” says Hannes, “but the scope of our coverage to outlying neighborhoods, because Chicago is a city of neighborhoods.”

WMAQ: NBC 5 Chicago Morning News Spot 2

 The current spot running for the morning news “promises that we work hard to bring you the most important stories,” Hannes says, “and deliver them in an easy, out-the door manner.”

WMAQ: NBC 5 Chicago Morning News Spot 3

The music used in all three spots came from the station’s in-house production music libraries, Video Helper or Killer Tracks, and that since spots 1 and 2 ran concurrently, different music beds were used for each so that “the spots were consistent and complimentary, but not the same.” All of the footage was shot in-house using a Canon 5-D camera.

Hannes stresses that consistency is key to WMAQ’s on-air news campaigns, whether it’s for the morning news or the late news. She wants viewers to be able to recognize a WMAQ spot just by the feeling the spots evoke whenever they see or hear any of its promos.  Note the similar style and tone these spots have in common with the morning news campaigns.

WMAQ: NBC 5 10 p.m. News

WMAQ: NBC 5 Weather

In addition to its own air, WMAQ’s morning news campaign included outside media placement such as these coffee cozies and in-store cash register ads.







WMAQ’s Morning News won the time periods at 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. in adults 25-54 and was No. 1 in women 25-54 at 4:30, 5 and 5:30 in February 2013, according to the station.

While Hannes concedes that the station’s marketing probably played a role in the ratings increase,

“the show content and personalities held up their share of the promise as well.”

Let’s see, good marketing that encouraged sampling of a refocused, back-to-basics newscast anchored by engaging personalities that achieved increased viewership.

With all due respect to Mother Nature, that sounds like a perfect storm Chicago viewers seem to welcome in the morning.

Market Share by Paul Greeley is all about marketing and promotion at TV stations and appears every Monday. 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.

Comments (0)

Leave a Reply