"Weather from someone you know" is coming to a much wider audience. Weather Edwards—R/GA’s resident meteorological prognosticator—has landed a corporate sponsor. Who could have predicted?
"We have a brand new sponsor!" Edwards announced on his new, weather-dedicated Facebook page over the weekend. Jack’s Stir Brew, a seven-store coffee chain based in New York City that only serves organic, Fair Trade, shade-grown beans is the first company to hitch its fortunes to the Weather Edwards wagon. The emerging celebrity made his initial on-air pitch over the weekend, in the blustery chill of Liberty Island State Park overlooking New York Harbor. It was a frigid 38 degrees, but as usual, the cold didn’t faze him.
Better known (for now at least) as Dave Edwards, SVP, managing director of business development, U.S. at R/GA, Weather Edwards has a growing fanbase, both at his own agency and in the ad industry at large. His short, semi-weekly videos delivering adorkable forecasts or man-on-the-street reports of inclement weather regularly attract hundreds of viewers. One of them is Rob Friedlander, CMO at Jack’s Stir Brew. "I fancy myself an early adopter of Weather Edwards, right from the start," he said.
The two met at a Microsoft dinner at Advertising Week several years ago and stayed in touch. When Friedlander was looking for an offbeat way to increase Jack’s local visibility, he thought of Edwards’ quirky videos. "I call him the accidental influencer," Friedlander said. "Coffee is a saturated space. We wanted to look for something unique and special that would cut through the noise."
Owner Jack Mazzola was on board with the idea from the beginning, Friedlander said. "He saw it for the same attributes. It’s community-centric, done with heart and soul. I saw alignment there."
In terms of scale, it’s not so far afield from the brand’s other advertising ventures—sponsoring a local girls basketball team in Greenwich Village, donating to the NYU Pediatric Cancer Dance-a-thon. "Straightforward local marketing," Friedlander called it. "We’re not looking for global reach yet. Here’s this guy who just loves giving weather reports to his friends. There’s something to this."
Both parties call the sponsorship a "gentleman’s agreement"—they’re willing to try whatever the other comes up with. Not that it isn’t official. "There’s actual money changing hands," Edwards insisted.
"It’s a grown-up sponsorship. We’re paying him in U.S. currency," Friedlander said.
"I mean, it’s not a ton of money. No one’s leaving their day job on this," Edwards said, with his typical deadpan delivery. "It’s significantly less than what I originally asked for, let’s just say that. When I threw the first number out, Rob said, ‘Hey, we’re not Starbucks!’"
For now, Edwards will mention Jack’s Stir Brew as his sponsor during his videos, which he’ll produce at least once a week going forward. About half of them will be filmed at a Jack’s location in Manhattan, and some additional videos may feature Mazzola himself. The brand will run the videos on its website and social media channels, and customers who mention Weather Edwards to the barista at any Jack’s location will get a "customer-friendly promotion." To start off, that will be a discount on their order.
It’s been a busy year for Weather Edwards. In addition to the sponsorship and the new Facebook page, he now has a dedicated website. "I’m so glad it was available. I did not have to buy it from anybody," Edwards said. There’s also a nascent Instagram account, and his Twitter feed is busier. "I actually registered for Wikipedia." Next step: an official Weather Edwards logo.
The commoditization of what has been just a hobby so far does pose a few challenges for the plucky weatherman. For one, he won’t be able to skip a forecast anymore due to other commitments or—irony of ironies—bad weather. But his wife, Nomi, who once counted herself a Weather Edwards skeptic, has become his biggest booster. "People like her push me when I don’t feel like doing it," Edwards said.
"She’s always one of the first people to share a post, like a post, tell friends about it. That’s been the biggest shift. She’s gone from a wife who used to roll her eyes when I said I had to go outside and do a weather report, to brainstorming with me the location to announce the Jack’s partnership. And she never minds running the camera anymore."
He’s getting extra attention at the agency, too. "It’s still very strange when people introduce me at a party or here at work to new people and say, ‘Hey, this is Dave Edwards, and he’s a weather forecaster.’ It’s just a very awkward introduction sometimes."
But like any celebrity, he’s getting used to it. "There’s nothing I can do about it," he admitted. "I created this beast."