There was no shortage of professional meteorologists churning out semi-reliable forecasts this winter. Yet when Winter Storm Jonas came bearing down on the Northeast US in January, Dave Edwards, SVP, managing director of business development at R/GA, took his cell phone and selfie stick to his Livingston, New Jersey, yard to record his own report.
"It will start to taper off after sundown," he said, snow rapidly accumulating on his shoulders. "I expect everything to really calm down 10, 11, 12 o’clock tonight. But until then you could anticipate anywhere from another 8 to 10 inches of snow."
"Don’t go out on the roads," he warned. "Just sit back, relax and everyone be safe. This is Weather Edwards. Thanks, guys."
Edwards, 49, claims no particular knowledge or insight into the weather. He has no training in meteorology, or in broadcasting the news, for that matter. "I obviously don’t have a degree," he said, in a typically self-deprecating tone. His knowledge comes largely from following The Weather Channel app and CBS 880 AM’s longtime meteorologist Craig Allen.
He does, however, have a longstanding love of the weather, first stoked during a class in high school. "I know that the winds go counter-clockwise around a low pressure system, and they go clockwise around a high pressure system," he said, "and I understand weather patterns to a degree."
Armed with that knowledge and a black North Face jacket (occasionally accessorized with a captain’s hat), Edwards has spent the past three years "reporting" the weather in short Facebook videos whenever inspiration strikes. From local parking lots or his suburban backyard, Weather Edwards will urge his audience to stay indoors due to icy roads or deliver the next day’s high and low temperatures with the practiced cadence of a morning show meteorologist.
"On this day in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that actually made it Mother’s Day nationally, which is amazing," Edwards said in a video he recorded on Mother’s Day this month. "But let’s get right to the weather."
The hobby has garnered Edwards a cult following among the employees of the Interpublic Group agency he’s called home for 11 years. Though most of his videos have been viewed only between 10 and 20 times on YouTube (where he boasts one subscriber), they regularly receive hundreds of views and dozens of comments on Facebook.
"When he interviewed all the kids for Take Your Kid to Work Day, half of them knew him from Weather Edwards," said Suzanne McGee, director of public relations at R/GA. "They were a little awestruck. 'What, is this that guy?' All of the kids were very friendly with him because they know him."
In a way, Weather Edwards has been an R/GA team effort. The original idea came from Vin Farrell, now global chief content officer at Havas Worldwide. During a blinding snowstorm three years ago, he prodded Edwards to go outside and do a weather report. "I did a selfie video in the snow for a minute and a half, and I put it up on Facebook," Edwards said, "and it got so much positive reaction."
Andrew Payton, GCD at Story Worldwide and former creative director at R/GA, provided the name, according to Edwards. "You need some sort of brand for it," he said, "because people are really digging you doing the weather reports. Just call yourself Weather Edwards."
VP of Content and Partnerships Jess Greenwood set up a Twitter account, @WeatherEdwards. And recent videos have featured a new tagline, "Weather from someone you know," provided by Michael "Pickles" Piccuirro, senior technology director of R/GA’s Prototype Studio.
"Maybe this is a sad thing," Edwards said, "but this has gotten so much traction, more than anything I’ve done on social media." He counts R/GA creatives, PR staff and their children among his fans.
"Whether at work or on Facebook, it’s always sunny with Weather Edwards," said Taras Wayner, EVP, ECD, US. "He's the first to greet people here and make them feel like part of our family — and let them know when they’ll need mittens and a shovel."
Weather Edwards has even gotten attention from R/GA’s holding company. "Interpublic’s chief growth officer, Simon Bond, is one of my biggest fans," Edwards says with a laugh. "He’ll text me after I do one, and he’ll be like, ‘Great job, Weather Edwards!’"
That’s probably about as far as the fame extends, though. "After I did a Weather Edwards in the winter, at the Thursday executive meeting someone said, ‘Oh Bob, did you see? Dave’s a weatherman,’ and I just cringed," Edwards said. "I was like, ‘Are you now going to explain to Bob Greenberg -- who’s in three Hall of Fames, by the way — that his business development guy is doing weather reports?"