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SOME LIKE IT HOT, OR WET, OR DRY MARKETERS FIND WAY TO BASK IN SUMMER'S ROTTEN WEATHER

By Published on .

Sweltering heat waves, flooding and drought in various regions of the U.S. are accelerating activity for some marketers this summer.

Retailers are doing a booming air conditioner business, and some are expecting heightened sales of replacement appliances in Georgia's flood-ravaged zones.

Sears, Roebuck & Co. said last week it's running newspaper ads produced by Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, in Georgia offering 0% financing on appliances and all merchandise; the company also plans to donate supplies to flood victims. Other local businesses are also making donations.

Cable TV's Weather Channel is reveling in the extreme conditions, which have driven viewership 18% above the norm for July.

"We're getting exceptionally high interest since around the Fourth of July, when the tropical storms began to hit the gulf along with heat waves in other regions," said Frank Garland, VP-national advertising sales. "The gulf storms triggered the floods in Georgia, which have continued to be of high interest to viewers, while other regions are experiencing different types of extreme conditions."

At the height of Tropical Storm Alberto, which hit the Southeast this month, the Weather Channel had a 1.6 rating-five times above normal and exceeding previous storm cycles, Mr. Garland said.

Ratings have been steadily increasing since the channel began broadcasting continuous weather reports in 1982. Its penetration has gradually increased to 55.6 million households, an estimated 91% of all homes with cable TV.

But in the past 18 months, drought and fires have hit the West, flooding struck the Midwest and record snowfall buried the East, providing a particular boon.

Weather Channel officials wouldn't say if they have attracted new advertisers but acknowledged they have increased revenue from existing advertisers via heightened cross-promotions and co-op efforts.

Ad revenue is at an all-time high this year, with income from other weather information products such as books, videos and calendars booming. An hourlong documentary about how tornadoes develop, marketed via direct response commercials during the weather broadcasts, is a hit this summer, Mr. Garland said.

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