WXIA is talking the best game in town. Its eye-popping news promos during the Olympics are gorgeous. Its tag line, “are you curious?” is a cool, refreshing contrast to the rat-a-tat breaking news! drumbeat employed in the promotion of WAGA and WSB. Its placement of these alt-promos during the Olympics is genius. The suits at WXIA have figured out that legions of Olympics viewers are among those who have turned their backs to local TV news, disgusted by its bottom-feeding tendencies. WXIA is trying to get those more-discerning viewers back with a smarter-sounding and -looking promo.
(Gotta say, though: When we first saw the tagline, we thought of “I Am Curious (Yellow),” a 1967 taboo-breaking Swedish art film, made famous when a journalist spotted Jackie Kennedy at a screening. But we digress….)
It’s interesting what the promos don’t say. They don’t say: “Our Brenda Wood is the only Atlanta TV reporter in China covering the Olympics!” And they don’t actually tell viewers to watch WXIA at 6 and 11. Instead, the spots promote the station’s web site. In an unsubtle industry, WXIA’s use of subtlety seems downright revolutionary.
Can it work? There’s a reason TV news produces loud, hyperkinetic promotion. It’s because they’re directed at the folks who regularly tune in to Oprah or The Price is Right or American Idol. WXIA’s campaign seems aimed at folks whose TV sets are usually switched off. And it targets those accustomed to using the web to find news. It’s very forward-thinking. We can only imagine the hand-wringing that went on when these promos were first screened at the station.
And yes, WXIA has tried this sort of thing before without leapfrogging into WSB’s ratings territory. But WXIA seems content to be a back-bencher, ratings-wise. With that in mind, it can afford a touch of subtlety, and can afford to make a run at folks who would normally turn off the TV when the local news comes on.