Stormy weather attributable to everything from Hurricane
Bonnie to El Niño and La Niña is putting wind in the advertising sales of The Weather
Channel's affiliates and interconnects.
At TWC, Courtney Jewell, director of local ad sales, said
the network's "Project SafeSide" -- a local preparedness initiative in
conjunction with the American Red Cross -- also serves as an attractive
local-sales-promotion opportunity. So far, she said, Project SafeSide's 65 systems or
interconnects, reaching a total of 3.6 million subscribers, have generated a combined
$500,000 in ad sales.
The idea is to have cable companies and local sponsors
relay important safety information -- through spots, point-of-sale displays and brochures
supplied by TWC -- to consumers so that they can be better prepared for tornadoes,
hurricanes, lightning, floods and other potential weather-related emergencies.
The approach of Hurricane Bonnie off the North Carolina
coast last week was the latest severe weather problem to bolster the visibility of Project
SafeSide, through the dissemination of safety information via Time Warner Adcast's
sponsors in Wilmington, N.C. Jeff Keener, the MSO's promotions director, was
unreachable for details, apparently due to area residents being evacuated.
Project SafeSide was first unveiled at the 1997 National
Show, but the local-sales effort only took off in the past six months or so.
Jewell said Cox Communications Inc. has amassed the most
local sales in aggregate, with MediaOne and Tele-Communications Inc. also posting strong
results. In some markets, MediaOne sold "a tornado sponsor, a lightning sponsor"
and so on, she noted, adding that its per-system sales ranged from $8,000 to $35,000.
The biggest single deal -- about $100,000 -- was booked by
Cox's Cox CableRep ad-sales arm in New Orleans, which sold State Farm Insurance
Agency, a 90-agent group covering that market.
AdNex Detroit sold Total Health Care as its Project
SafeSide cable sponsor, spending "in the low-six figures," said Wayne Hindmarsh,
the Detroit interconnect's general manager. TWC's Detroit radio affiliate,
WNIC-FM, signed the Kroger retail chain, Jewell added, with each client running
preparedness spots on tornadoes and lightning -- Kroger on radio and Total on cable.
The accounts have also been sponsoring a booth at several
summer events in Detroit, set to conclude at a Labor Day weekend art fair, Hindmarsh said.
A downpour at the July 4 event made the sponsors' booth a popular spot, since they
gave out 1,000 ponchos bearing their logos and that of Project SafeSide.
Elsewhere, Houston Power & Electric is backing Project
SafeSide via Time Warner Cable in Houston, while a local tire and automotive-accessories
dealer is running Project SafeSide warnings about tornadoes, floods and lightning via
Oklahoma City Advertising, an interconnect serving Cox and Multimedia Cablevision systems.
Taking a more targeted tack is Aumack's Chemist Shop.
A pharmacy specializing in home health-care products for senior citizens, Aumack's
bought a package from MediaOne in Lansing, Mich., with spots telling seniors how to stay
well during this summer's extreme heat conditions.