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BY GEORGE: Sponsored Weather Fronts?

Bet you didn’t know that in Germany companies, or even individuals can pick and sponsor weather fronts.  That was a new on me as well.  But as it turns out, it’s not that infrequent, and at times it can make for some precarious promotional attempts.

For example, the severe cold and snow this winter across much of Europe has become somewhat of a marketing snafu for BMW AG’s Mini brand.  BMW bought and sponsored a “Cooper” front.

Now, having its name tied to such a disastrous and tragic series of arctic cold waves, which has taken hundreds of lives, not to mention the severe strain on thousands of others, has become a marketing headache.  That’s true even though the weather is in no way connected to the sponsorship, of course.  In Germany, there’s a long history of trying to make a tie-in with the weather and sponsored events or special occasion, and people have come to subconsciously connect the deals.

BMW originally thought (and it might have worked in a normal winter) it would be a great advertising idea to market the Mini’s new roadster with brisk, but sunny weather during the winter.  It would be cool to connect the car with a brisk and sunny day.

They didn’t spend a lot of money on the sponsorship, only about $394.00 for a 2012 high- pressure system, and dubbed it Cooper.  They spent another $250.00 on a low-pressure system and secured the name Minnie.

Mini management had to actually come out and in an official news release say it regretted the cold’s “catastrophic proportions” and deaths of its victims.  “It was not intentional, and you cannot tell in advance what a weather system will do.”

In Germany it is common for the national media to refer to major weather events with names.  Also, in the 1950’s, Berlin’s Institute for Meteorology at the Free University, following the U.S. National Weather Service’s lead in naming tropical storms, began bestowing names, in alphabetical order, on all high and low-pressure areas affecting Central Europe.  In 2002, when the institute’s budget was cut, it launched an “Adopt-a-Vortex” program to help fund round-the-clock weather observation.

Male and female names are alternated each year, each gender associated with low-pressure (nasty weather) one year, and high-pressure (fair weather) the next.  That way, you have a set of male and female names for each season.

At first the weather was sponsored mainly by individuals as goofy and unusual gifts.  Then, as the whole thing took off, companies started sponsoring products, events, and advertising campaigns.

So, if you have a little extra cash to spend (waste), take a high, take a low, but careful what or whom you sponsor in the fickle world of weather.

By: George Elliott