If Santa's elves are working double shifts, it must also be time for a new video from the perpetually peppy Holderness family, which went viral a year ago with a video of them rapping and dancing, in their “Christmas Jammies,” to the tune of Will Smith’s “Miami.” What started out as a video Christmas card for friends and family late in 2012 has turned into an annual event—and a good excuse for some highly effective marketing for a pair of local television alumni.
The Holderness clan put out a dozen family videos this year. “At its core, we try to find something that’s relatable,” says Penn Holderness, former anchor at WNCN Raleigh, of the videos’ vast appeal. “It’s something we’ve observed, something that we find funny or interesting, and that vomits into a song.”
Penn and his wife Kim have extensive local TV experience. Penn got his start at KREX Grand Junction and also did sports at WOFL Orlando before ending up at the WNCN anchor desk, with a stint at ESPN too. Kim’s TV career culminated at Inside Edition following multimedia journalist roles at WMBB Panama City, WPEC West Palm Beach and WKMG Orlando, among others.
Kim departed broadcasting in 2008 to focus on a media training start-up. Penn pitched in with video production. WNCN made a five-year offer, he says, but Kim came in with a better one. “I offered him nothing,” says Kim. “No money, no benefits.”
Penn wanted to spend more time with his family, so the two became partners—along with another WNCN vet, Sharon Delaney McCloud—on Greenroom Communications. While Greenroom produces videos for clients, it’s the family ones that break through. “Christmas Jammies” has more than 15 million views. Thanksgiving-themed “All About That Baste,” a spoof on Meghan Trainor’s infectious hit, has 4.3 million views on YouTube. CAA represents the family on brand partnerships, and Maker Studios on the YouTube videos. “It sounds very Hollywood,” says Kim. “It’s not.”
Seeing Some Green
Greenroom has nine staffers. The couple won’t share revenue figures. “We’re not buying a boat,” says Penn, “but we’re not going broke either.”
As they are parodies, there’s very little money made on the family videos. But their marketing might is massive. “Every time we put one out,” says Penn, “we get lots of calls.”
Penn and Kim are high-energy people with seemingly natural senses of humor. While couples frequently finish each other’s sentences, Penn and Kim often speak on behalf of the other. A reality show, working title #Holderness, about their “crazy life juggling their upstart digital content business while taking care of two young kids at home,” according to press materials, is scheduled to debut on Up TV in February.
Penn stays connected to the broadcast world by penning timely football ditties for CBS Sports. “My goal is to get Deion Sanders and Tony Gonzalez to laugh,” he says of the NFL Today analysts.
Both miss the friends they made in local television, even if they don’t miss the work all that much. Kim says live TV prepared her well for their new venture. “There’s nothing you can’t do if you work in local news,” she says, “outside of brain surgery.”
LOCAL BROADCASTERS LAUNCH RATINGS SERVICE
Fox Television Stations, Tribune Media and Univision are partnering with tech outfit Timeline Labs to launch NewCoin, which they describe as a “data venture aimed at addressing deficiencies in local market television audience measurement.” The mission of NewCoin, say the broadcasters, “is to harness the data gathering power of currently available and emerging technologies, in order to create a broader based measurement tool that will accurately measure audiences across the entire spectrum of linear and digital platforms.”
“We believe the NewCoin initiative could lead to a much needed reliable and comprehensive audience measurement solution across all platforms,” says Larry Wert, president of Tribune Media.
The Dallas market will be used to develop and test the service before it is scaled to other markets. Timeline Labs, cofounded by former Tribune Broadcasting president Ed Wilson, helps media companies analyze and curate social media messages.