Return with us now to NBC5's "JaM" cam promos for anchors Jane McGarry/Mike Snyder
03/14/11 02:18 PM
By ED BARK
Bill Clinton was president and Rupert Murdoch was on the prowl when Fort Worth-based NBC5 introduced its most famous ad campaign ever.
The station's "JaM" promos, which included a Jif peanut butter style logo, were launched a couple of years after Jane McGarry and Mike Snyder became NBC5's 6 and 10 p.m. anchor team in 1992. The station's promotions director at the time, Lee Spieckerman, said it was an effort to strengthen NBC5's brand in the months preceding the big summer of '95 D-FW affliliate switch in which Murdoch's Fox corporation took Channel 4 away from CBS, which in turn relocated to Channel 11.
Spieckerman, always a talkative and indefatigable point man for his station, lately has posted four news commercials that ran in 1993 and '94. The two JaM spots are bookended by meteorologist David Finfrock's self-effacing advertisement for himself and a hard-charger on behalf of NBC5's "Public Defenders" team of Marty Griffin, Sabrina Smith and Mike Androvett.
The second JaM spot is the one to watch. Snyder at one point is approached by a man who asks him, "Aren't you the M in Jam?" And a grateful McGarry is presented with a school kid's rendering of the JaM logo. It all ends with an elderly black couple sitting on a porch bench.
"Well, it's 10' clock," says he.
"Let's JaM," she says before they both laugh and head indoors to experience the wonders of NBC5's late night newscast.
The JaM ads are easy enough to ridicule, then and now. But they juiced up the station's profile and were a sharp and intendedly hip response to WFAA8's earlier set of cracker barrel-ish ads starring a cowboy hat-toting Dennis Weaver. Spieckerman, who now runs SpieckermanMedia LLC, still remembers them fondly. And certainly without apology.
"As to criticism, bring it on!" Spieckerman said in an email. "In our Gallup market research at the time, JaM was, overwhelmingly, the most recalled and successful station audience marketing campaign of the era. Within a year of its debut, Jane McGarry ascended to parity with (WFAA8's) Gloria Campos in research rankings, though both were somewhat behind (Fox4's) Clarice Tinsley."
The "Public Defenders" campaign "also took the market by storm," Spieckerman contended. "Virtually every highly-promoted PD special report pushed KXAS' 10 p.m. news to #1 in the ratings at a time when WFAA had been winning every weeknight."
Seventeen years down the road, only Finfrock remains in place as NBC5's chief meteorologist. Snyder was let go by the station on July 1st of last year and McGarry is now an early evening news anchor. Their 10 p.m. replacements are Brian Curtis and Meredith Land, with "BaM" being something the promotions department might want to consider.
NBC5's "Public Defenders" team has long been broken up, and the station currently has no full-time investigative unit.
Here are the four commercials from yesteryears. And whatever you think of them, they still call attention to themselves.