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AG News: 7/29/2006

HD Radio - From Our Department of Skepticism

Haven't heard this much commotion in the radio industry since Clear Channel created the mother of all radio campaigns for HD Radio, "Are you Def Yet?".

The band of brothers leading the radio industry today has just released another campaign for HD Radio. One industry publication describes this push as the HD Digital Radio Alliance having "stepped up its efforts to accelerate consumer awareness of digital radio by launching a new branding initiative centered around the marketing slogan "Discover It!" Whoever wrote those words never listened to the spots. Or, if they did, they don't have a handle on what is required in branding a new product.

Hailed as being the first or second largest radio campaign in each market it runs in, "Discover It!" is sure to get the people talking - possibly with the word "what?"

Take a listen to these commercials through this link. Then, come back here for a discussion on why this campaign is going to crash and burn.

The first thing to say about "Discover It!" is that whatever is said about it is a subjective call. I'm sure there are persons who feel this campaign is a bout with brilliance. That's why it's important for you to listen to each of the 36 commercials about HD Radio (12 :30s & 24 :15s), or the 50 commercials labeling where HD Radios are being sold (25 :30s & 25 :15s).

Next, if there's one thing that the HD Alliance has done with this round of commercials it's keeping a foot in ambiguity. As with the campaign "Are You Def Yet?", the "Discover It!" campaign grabs hold of a new line "the stations between the stations." Yet, it never fully explains what this means to the audience.

One of the first questions a copywriter must ask before putting pen to paper is "what problem is this product a solution for?" It's obvious that this never came up in the pre-production meetings for the "Discover It!" campaign. Or, perhaps, the creators of HD Radio publicity think the public is so frustrated with poor quality reception that pushing CD quality should be the main selling point. Big mistake, cause that problem doesn't exist with today's audio systems.

There are many other reasons why this campaign about HD Radio is going to fail; one is its promise of new programming that, when sampled, will prove to be nothing more than looped music. Look for dissastified consumers when this occurs.

You can't just tell people they'll find exciting programming. You've got to let them define what's exciting, that's when they start talking about it. (Here are three articles discussing HD Radio program quality and the perceptions it has today: Sample 1, Sample 2, Sample 3.)

There are a few other lines appearing in the "Discover It!" campaign's commericals:
"HD2 stations deliver more of what you want. More music, more talk, and expanded news..." is put forth in one commercial. Then, in the "Mainstream Between" commercial these words are heard "You'll find a world of music, news, and talk unlike any you've heard before." What's going to happen when the public finds this not to be true? Are there any talk or news stations producing "more" on their HD signal? Does any HD station, that's not just multicasting its analog signal, offer more than music and liners?

It appears that the HD Alliance is going for quantity rather than quality with the release of this mind-numbing 86 spot campaign. It's a take-off of the old "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with..." adage.

Unfortunately, all the "Discover It!" campaign shows is that the people who control the radio industry, and the HD Digital Radio Alliance, don't know how to properly use radio for advertising.

From: Ted S.

Hybrid HD Radio was never intended to be good! Medium wave HD Radio causes
interference and FM Band HD radio only provides more channels. The benefits
don't come until the analog channels are shut off. That is when Medium wave
stations will sound like FM+ and go a lot further without interference and
FM band stations can run with 5 kW instead of 100, and add boosters that fill
in the shadows. There are few benefits NOW, but when you check out the
performance of the digital only modes -- WOW.

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