December 13, 2016
R/GA's amateur meteorologist, 'Weather Edwards,' lands his first brand sponsorship
"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."
May 13, 2016
Meet R/GA's amateur meteorologist, Weather Edwards
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?"