HD Radio Campaign: An Inside Job? Ferrara Says No!
January 14, 2008 at 7:26 AM (PT)
The HD RADIO ALLIANCE's new advertising campaign, which has already been criticized in some quarters for its angle that arguably denigrates traditional AM/FM to praise the qualities of HD, is now coming under fire for the way the ALLIANCE chose the creative agency.
As noted in KURT HANSON'S blog on the RAIN website, ADWEEK reported last week that the HD RADIO ALLIANCE hired OMNICOM GROUP’s GSD&M IDEA CITY, based in AUSTIN, to come up with a slick new campaign to promote HD RADIO. The campaign reportedly features the voice of SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS -- actor TOM KENNY -- as an AM/FM radio that's acting like a jilted lover because its owner wants or has a HD RADIO. The ADWEEK story quotes the radio as saying things like "You know, I could totally pick up those new extra HD stations if I hit the gym ... Is that what you're into now? Huh? Call me!'"
Read HANSON's entire analysis of the HD Radio spots, when you click here.
According to radio consultants FRED JACOBS and DAVE MARTIN, those spots essentially trash traditional radio to make HD radio look good (NET NEWS 12/20/07). HD RADIO ALLIANCE CEO PETER FERRARA defended the campaign on JACOBS' blog, and the ALLIANCE has refused to pull the campaign.
New revelations cloud the situation further. Last week, ADWEEK reported, "There was no review for the business, which had previously been handled in-house." (Normally, a client will hold its account for review, so several ad agencies could make a creative pitch for the account.) Secondly, HANSON reported that on MONDAY, JANUARY 9th, JIM MURPHY posted a comment on FRED JACOBS' blog, asserting that the same agency was chosen to design a campaign for the COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION and took a similar tack; unimpressed, the CMA refused to run the campaign.
In an exclusive interview with ALL ACCESS, HD RADIO ALLIANCE Pres./CEO PETER FERRARA said, "Despite that was printed in ADWEEK, there was an extensive agency review. The spots were not reviewed from a focus group standpoint. GSD&M felt that having promoted this up to 77% consumer awareness and having just completed an extensive study about what consumers knew about HD RADIO, and what would motivate them, we had a lot of fresh research data from the early FALL (2007) and we felt it would have been research on top of research. However, we will monitor the effectiveness of the current campaign ... and the bottom line is selling more HD radios."
So, what about the campaign itself, which some criticize as taking a shot at AM/FM programming in the interest of promoting HD? "The campaign we are running is not about getting people to listen or not to listen to AM and FM, it's about getting them motivated to buy a new device," explained FERRARA. "Those critical of the campaign are hearing it through 'radio ears' -- we hope that consumers are hearing that it's about a new radio appliance that we're asking them to buy. I'm surprised by the negative reaction, but they are not hearing this from a consumer standpoint -- so it's justified in that regard. If you re-listen with consumer ears, these spots will come off different."
HD Radio Campaign Going Forward
FERRARA was optimistic, yet realistic, about where HD RADIO currently stands. "We hired GSD&M to help create consumer action for HD RADIO. We have consumer awareness now at 77% among radio listeners as a whole, but intent-to-purchase is just 33% overall and at 55% for cars. So, there is a big gap to fill. We're not going to be happy until we bring the purchase numbers up.
"And, the current HD RADIO campaign is the first in a series of campaigns throughout the year. On APRIL 1st there will be another, new campaign. I value everyone's input. What frustrates me is when they give misaligned or misinformed criticism without some new ideas on how to solve it. I am encouraged about the dialogue -- which means we are moving the emotional needle inside our business."