When a local TV station invests millions to own and operate its own helicopter, it expects that chopper to be promoted as part of the station’s coverage brand. And so we’ll see examples of how local TV stations around the country have promoted their choppers over the years
In Part 1 of Marketing Local TV News Choppers, we learned about the first TV station to use helicopters in its news coverage and how large-market stations promoted their choppers.
In Part 2, we’ll see how news helicopters became more mainstream and how stations across the country promoted them.
When a station invests millions to own and operate its own helicopter, the station’s general manager and news director expect that chopper to be promoted as part of the station’s coverage brand.
And so, through the years, stations created promos that focused on the various benefits of their copter.
Early on, most stations touted the technology of their aircraft. Masculine, muscular promos with animated graphics and pounding music promised fast, powerful ships armed with cutting-edge cameras, capable of shooting day or night.
WAVY Portsmouth, Va.
KMBC Kansas City
KENS San Antonio
Here are two scary chopper spots back to back from WTNH New Haven, Conn., that just might give you nightmares.
Some chopper promos took a more underhanded approach with a friendly feel showing the helicopter out and about in front of well-known city landmarks.
KGO San Francisco
This spot from WOIO Cleveland touts how fast its chopper can cover the city compared to other stations that don’t have a bird.
Some stations gave their chopper pilots or camera operators hero status, mythical figures worthy of a Hollywood movie.
KFMB San Diego
KFOR Oklahoma City
In this romantic chopper promo from WRAL Raleigh, N.C., it’s always a great day to fly.
In 1996, WCPX Orlando, Fla. (now WKMG), used its helicopter as part of a program to teach young students about the importance of news.
Today, according to an article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, the use of helicopters by TV stations is on the decline.
However, I believe that in most major metropolitan markets, the use of a news helicopter will continue as a critical and essential tool for news coverage.
In some cases, stations have grounded their expensive helicopters in favor of drones.
WHAM Rochester, N.Y.
Are news helicopters critical to attracting news viewers?
In one market where I was the marketing director, one of our competitors spent a lot of time and money promoting their helicopter. So much so that my news director asked why I wasn’t promoting ours. I pointed to our research that listed factors that viewers used to choose their news source. Having a helicopter came in at No. 29. But that may not be true in every market.
At WDSU New Orleans, we brought SKY 6 to an elementary school for Show and Tell.
And at WINK Ft. Myers, Fla., I imagined what it would be like if people had their own chopper. This spot was given a CBS Eye on Excellence Award.