Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Boston's WBZ Makeover Enters a Cold Sea of Blue

Boston's local channel 4 news station, WBZ recently underwent a $750,000 makeover that includes a new set design and revised logo, reports the Boston Globe. The changes were made in an effort to better compete in a market where other stations are gaining viewership. In addition, the station is continuing to solidify their brand evolution from NBC to CBS in an affiliate change in 1995.

WBZ general manager Ed Piette says, "How do you contemporize a legacy television station? What we have here is no different than Cadillac, which was born in the 1920s, which is still very 21st century. Our look and our feel was getting a little long in the tooth."

At first glance, the set's new look – a slick, blue, purple, and metallic grey palette feels clean and contemporary. The logo, which looks to be the same art, just converted to a one color semi-transparent white knockout treatment, compliments the set nicely and pops off the dark blue backgrounds. All in all, a fine execution.

But after looking at the sea of blue competitive landscape, it begs one to ask, why change from a warm, inviting color palette to an undifferentiated cold metallic look. The set may have needed some updating, e.g. the dated wood veneer, riveted paneling, and lighting, but this feels like a change for change's sake, as Piette says, it "…was getting a little long in the tooth."

What set WBZ apart (visually) from competitors, is it's friendly and bright color palette including a vibrant yellow and cyan. The same warm tones were also reflected in the set that used wood accents and warm lighting. And although becoming a bit dated, the old set felt more inviting and human while this new set feels more like a 21st century version of the game battleship or a scene from the next Bourne flic – cold and mechanical. And what looks like an effort to "contemporize" the station ends up feeling like a half-step back in time, just with better technology.

I would have loved to see the same technological steps taken to update the set, i.e. the HD monitors and smart lighting, but with the bright color palette. Here's to hopes that viewers enjoy the new set, and don't jump ship just because of the look and feel.


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