APG-U.S. Account Planning Awards: Passion Play

Agency: TBWA C/D
Client: The Weather Channel
A smart, amusing campaign finds a devoted audience for The Weather Channel.
Let’s face it. Talking about the weather is generally considered to be as interesting as watching paint dry. So it follows that a channel dedicated to forecasting the weather 24 hours a day didn’t exactly make for great TV. Weather forecasts are extremely accessible and many people didn’t require The Weather Channel’s expertise on a daily basis, let alone at 3 a.m. Consequently, as competition for cable distribution became more fierce, cable companies increasingly saw TWC as a replaceable commodity.
TWC had to become indispensable to the cable lineup, or the likes of ESPN, which was multiplying like rabbits, would soon be usurping its channel position with yet a third network. We needed to transform the perception of TWC from a commodity product into an engaging brand with a devoted viewership. The challenge was how to do this when our very product–weather–was seen as, in a word, boring.
Enter “The Revelation.” Weather isn’t boring to everyone. TWC had a group of viewers who watched religiously–a cult following. To them, weather was about more than accurate forecasts. They spoke of “awe and fascination” for the “mystery,” “wonder” and “power” of Mother Nature. Though avid viewers, they were embarrassed to admit it. They were “in the closet,” so to speak. Think about it–being into the weather wasn’t exactly like being into sports. After all, those who are unabashedly into the weather–meteorologists–come off as a bunch of geeks.
What most people didn’t know is that beneath the surface, meteorologists have an unbridled, endearing enthusiasm for weather. One meteorologist summed it up: “Weather’s fascinating. You can run all the forecasting models perfectly and Mother Nature can still throw you a curveball.” What happened? Why didn’t this passion translate onto the screen?
Ironically, meteorologists had repressed their passion to give people what they wanted: predictability. Weather wasn’t inherently boring. Science had made it boring. If we could remystify what had been demystified, we could make weather and The Weather Channel interesting. We therefore repositioned TWC around its passion for weather, rather than focusing on its forecasting expertise.
The advertising needed to not only convey TWC’s passion but also celebrate the viewers’ passion for weather–making it OK for them to “come out of the closet.” In order to make TWC socially acceptable, we had to recognize there was something inherently amusing about being that into weather. We decided to laugh at ourselves so people would laugh with us, not at us.
The creative solution was to invent a weather bar called “The Front,” a spoof on a sports bar, that boldly proclaims: “Weather fans you’re not alone.” The idea borrowed an accepted obsession with sports to create an accepted obsession with weather.
As a result of the campaign, TWC has maintained cable distribution and increased viewership by 3 million households. Most importantly, 73 percent of people who saw the advertising think of TWC as “passionate about the weather.” So, watch out, weather fans are taking the country by storm.
CLIENT: The Weather Channel
Steve Clapp, VP Strategic Marketing
Amy Pollard, Dir., Brand Marketing
Mike Griffin, Dir., Trade Marketing
Bruce Humbert, VP, Strategic Research
Nadine Padawer, former Group Planning Dir.
Vallier Hardy, Jr. Account Planner
Salam MacGregor, Management Supervisor
Andi Drulard, Account Exec.
Steve Rabosky & Jerry Gentile, Creative Dirs.
Chris Graves & Deb Hagan, Art Dirs.
Erik Moe & Mickey Taylor, Copywriters