I would love to see HD Radio work. I really would.
But in order to "break" a new medium/gadget in this new millennium, it’s going to take clever tactics, brilliant strategy, and on-target execution. These are qualities that have been in short supply since the Alliance was formed. Another Christmas comes and goes, and the celebration over a half million radios sold is about as meaningless as a big defensive lineman celebrating after a sack in a game his team is losing by five touchdowns.
And the newest campaign that evidently launches on Alliance stations on New Year’s Eve – and set to run for all of first quarter – stunned me. You can go to the HD Radio Alliance web page, and check it out for yourself. Just click "Commercials" from the home page, scroll down to "Click On Your Contract Name" and sample the 10 different spots they have posted. Or, if you’re an Alliance station, walk down to your Traffic department and take a listen.
In a sort of snarky approach, the campaign features a humanized radio talking to his owner about why HD Radio product is so attractive and not worth the bother. But in the process, traditional radio is repositioned as old-fashioned, repetitive, and lame.
Why does the Alliance feel they have to market HD Radio by selling against AM/FM Radio? (Of course, those are the same stations that are expected to invest millions of dollars of their precious air time running these commercials.) On top of that, it’s questionable whether this campaign clearly extols the benefits of HD Radio, especially to those who are already confused. You have to hear these commercials a few times before you really get a basic understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish, while they throw AM/FM Radio under the bus.
Why isn’t HD Radio positioning against the subscription model of satellite radio or the 99 cents a song iPod? That would make sense because HD Radio could potentially be postioning its variety and free attributes. Instead, like everyone else these days, these ads take shots at traditional AM/FM broadcast radio. If I heard David Rehr‘s "2020" initiative correctly, I thought it was all about combatting trash talking radio, and being proud of what the medium has to offer.
Listen to them yourself and tell me I’m wrong.