The Marketing of Winter

Back when I was a kid (are you groaning yet?), we didn’t have polar vortexes or named storms. No, it just got cold with arctic blasts and the occasional blizzard.

The Weather Channel had a nice justification for naming its winter storms, specifically safety through awareness. But let’s be honest about this, the channel is making its content more attractive to the marketplace through personification and mystery.

It’s the marketing of winter.

Can you blame The Weather Channel? In an era of niche media, there are few things that commands attention across wide swathes of the population. Major weather events happen to be one of those things, the Super Bowl being another.

Believe me when I say this: The Weather Channel has to do everything it can to drive ratings. A victim of its own successful Internet applications, the Weather Channel lost 20% of its viewing audience when DirecTV dropped it earlier this month. This follows a 19 percent drop in its ratings since 2011 as a result of its hyper successful Internet apps.

It makes sense. Some people may prefer spending 30 seconds on the Weather Channel app as opposed to watching ten minutes of programming to get the same information.

Competitive weather networks won’t help. In addition to WeatherNation, Accuweather is launching a 24-7 network this fall as is Network Weather. It seems like there will be more fish fighting for this smaller pond.

But if The Weather Channel sees people checking the weather via their apps instead of tuning in via cable, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in interactive content instead of fighting for less cable viewers?


That’s why the marketing of winter makes sense to me. There is one thing we can be certain of; sooner or later the weather will turn foul. The added panache provides a compelling story that translates across medium.

Vortexes and named storms offer The Weather Channel a differentiator, and allows them to sell advertisements and sponsoships of major weather events on their networks. The mobile ad check-ins alone are probably worth it. “Sponsor coverage of five named storms this winter. You can make sure your mobile ads for snow shovels show when someone is within five miles of a store.”

What do you think of the The Weather Channel’s marketing of winter?


  • Check your history. The term polar vortex has been around since 1853. It made its way into the bigger vocabulary in the 1950’s. This is hardly the work of the Weather Channel trying to market their service.

    • True, but it was not a part of the public vernacular until the weather channel started using it this year.

      • Right on, Geoff. “Polar Vortex” is a meteorological term and scientifically accurate. But where it’s nothing new, it’s not anything the general populace knew of til just a few weeks ago. Now, every time it gets a little chilly, people are going to start speaking of THE POLAR VORTEX.

  • I get that TWC has to market itself just like any other network. But there’s so much sensationalism and so many scare tactics at play that it’s more than can be borne. There are reasons that NOAA names hurricanes. For The Weather Channel–under the false umbrella of “public safety”–to take it upon itself to name every last storm that crosses the country, first of all, makes it sound like they are working with an organization like NOAA (they ain’t) and, second of all, makes every storm unremarkable. Like Syndrome says, in The Incredibles, “When everyone is special, no one will be.” Can you sense my disdain?

    • I think you will find that the NOAA crowd is non-plussed by this evolution, too. I think the trivial nature of the names aren’t really making a difference either. Case in point, Atlanta.

      Thanks for coming by, Melissa. I really appreciate it.

  • Haven’t watched the Weather Channel in years. Funny, because we used to always chuckle at my wife’s family (first, her grandparents and then her dad) who would have the Weather Channel on the TV. It was part of their day.

    Of course, I haven’t watched network programming in years. If it isn’t sports, it’s Netflix for me!

    As for those winter storms, when you are in high school football practice in South Texas, you do not want one of those wimpy Pacific cold fronts coming in…you want that Arctic blast…that blue norther…to make those practices more bearable!!

    • OMG, Friday night lights in blue! I am with you on the network programming. I see now value now that anything can be downloaded!
      Good luck to Peyton and crew on Sunday!

      • I will definitely be a tad preoccupied on Sunday – Go Broncos!! OK with rain and even snow…just no wind, please.

        Twits booking a Super Bowl at a cold weather, outside location!

  • Pingback:Last Super Reflections, Winter Blues and Event ROI - Tenacity5 Media

    […] When we see weather reports on television, cold winter temperatures are note dby blues and purples. Increasingly, we also see storm names and fancy descriptors for fronts, like polar vortexes. The Weather Channel (TWC) has been marketing winter in an attempt to increase plummeting ratings. Geoff examines the ins and outs of the TWC’s winter blues. […]

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