When WXMI, the Fox affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., decided to launch an 11 p.m. newscast, the station faced a couple marketing problems, one of which it inflicted on itself. You see, when the station launched its 10 p.m. news back in 1999, it heavily branded that newscast as, At 10 It’s News, at 11 […]
When WXMI, the Fox affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., decided to launch an 11 p.m. newscast, the station faced a couple marketing problems, one of which it inflicted on itself. You see, when the station launched its 10 p.m. news back in 1999, it heavily branded that newscast as, At 10 It’s News, at 11 It’s History. So how do you undo a 15-year-old marketing perception that you yourself created?
First, you address your Facebook friends.
“Generally, people are pretty nostalgic about seeing a clip of one of the first promos for FOX 17 News At Ten from way back when,” said Travis Henkaline, WXMI’s creative services director.
“We posted a reference to the At Ten It’s News, At Eleven It’s History line, and as you can see from the screen grab below, it generated 73 likes, 26 comments and 2 shares.”
Then the station went on-air to tell viewers that, to paraphrase Roseanne Roseannadanna, the famous character created by Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live, never mind, we changed our minds.
“The At Ten It’s News, at Eleven It’s History is really engrained in our viewers minds,” said Henkaline, “so this one’s generated a lot of conversation internally and externally.”
The second problem? You’re a Fox affiliate with a 15-year history of doing a 10 o’clock newscast. Won’t viewers get confused when you tell them you’re launching an 11 o’clock newscast?
“We were afraid of that,” said Henkaline, “fearful of the message that with the launch of the 11, we were getting rid of the 10. We had to make it clear that the news was expanding.”
During a brainstorming session, his staff came up with the idea that, when it comes to watching the late night news, people can be either a 10 or an 11, which led to these clever, memorable campaigns using man on the street, not actors.
Finally, Henkaline writes, “the station is doing a little stunt in advance of the launch, we’re going to have a special airing of the movie, This is Spinal Tap. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that movie but it’s got a cult following and one of the best, most quoted lines from the movie has to do with them turning it up the sound to 11. So we’re going to air that movie and our 11 p.m. anchors are going to host the movie and have some long-form messaging during the breaks.”