The channel recently decided to honor Tornado Week, and its programming of the deadliest tornados in history, by subjecting its interns and hosts to high-force winds that increased based on Twitter mentions. The more tweets received with #tornadoweek, the stronger the winds got. The “goal” was to reach a million mentions and EF5 level strength. The whole thing was broadcast live via webcam.
The interns, and many of the on-camera personalities, were seen mugging for the camera, making and throwing paper airplanes, dancing, smiling and having a great time.
Buzz60 produced a segment the first day of this campaign questioning whether a station that regularly covers the devastation of natural disasters should be making such light of tornados and their power. We pointed to the fact that the deadly Joplin, Missouri tornado was only two years ago. Other media outlets highlighted the Weather Channel’s campaign but very few offered any criticism.
This tornado celebration continued for a whole week, and a Best of #TornadoWeek video with peppy music is now available on Weather.com, alongside profiles of a hero who risked his life for others and a storm that dried up Lake Eerie.
And, yet still, days after a twister in Moore, Oklahoma claimed the lives of 24, including children, the cheery campaign is still promoted on the site. It may have garnered nearly 50,000 tweets, but was it positive for the brand?
I applaud creativity when it comes to social media campaigns but I question the execution. Sensitivity to the big picture shouldn’t be ignored for the sake of humor. Instead of increasing the wind, why not increase donations for Joplin or Moore recovery?
Let’s hope they don’t try to pull the same stunt for Hurricane Week in August and throw water at the new crop of interns. And, if they do, let’s have at least some one else raise a red flag.