Content

Storming Into Retail

8/25/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

When consumers head for the store to stock up on emergency supplies and rain gear this hurricane season, they will see a handful of products bearing The Weather Channel’s brand.

The programmer has expanded its licensing roster this season, using the cross-promotional opportunities to also place safety and emergency-preparedness information on products normally purchased in advance of the onset of severe weather.

“Our commitment to severe weather safety and preparedness runs deep at The Weather Channel, not only through our on-air emphasis on keeping people out of harm’s way but also behind the scenes at preparedness fairs and grassroots safety events,” said Wonya Lucas, general manager and executive vice president of The Weather Channel Networks.

This month, the channel and Spectrum Brands, maker of Rayovac batteries and flashlights, teamed up on a “radio media tour.” Weather Channel meteorologists Stephanie Abrams (who will co-host a new primetime show on the network this fall) and Alexandra Steele, the host of Evening Edition, appeared on radio stations in 18 markets, including WQUE-FM in New Orleans. They offered safety and preparation tips, and observed that printed information is available on select Rayovac products in retail stores.

Also for sale: The Weather Channel Stormtracker weather-alert radio, marketed by Vector. These radios are sold nationwide, and come in a variety of models, some including battery-powered television, radio and lantern features. All have a hand-cranked rechargeable backup-power feature.

Consumers can also buy an emergency preparedness kit developed with input from safety experts at the channel and merchandised by Excalibur Electronics. The kit can sustain a family of four and includes flashlights, survival blankets, a radio, batteries, a first aid kit and a safety booklet that advises on the creation of a family weather emergency plan.

The channel has a year-old relationship with clothing maker L.L. Bean, but this year, that arrangement expands. The retailer has been the official outfitter for TWC’s meteorologists in the field. But this year L.L. Bean’s advertising copy will identify the channel as its “product-testing department.”

Abrams will be featured in full-page ads in consumer publications, wearing the Weather Challenger jacket by L.L. Bean. The copy reads, “If our great gear can protect them from the elements, you can be sure it will handle the weather in your neighborhood.”

Other licensing partners include La Crosse Technology, manufacturer of a line of wireless weather stations; and ShedRain, which makes The Weather Channel umbrella and rain gear.

On Weather.com, the channel launched hurricane coverage earlier this month with a consumer sweepstakes. Viewers were directed to the “Safeside” area at the site, where they could pledge their commitment to preparedness.

Participants qualified for a drawing to win Stormtracker logo wear and could link into the preparedness pages for more information.

March