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Are WE def yet?

“Are you def yet” is the (service-marked!) theme of a new series of HD Radio spots produced by Clear Channel and available for download.

A few comments:

1. This is a radio campaign, not an outdoor one. When the average listener hears “def” on the radio aren’t they really hearing “deaf”? Especially if we’re talking about the average listener over 25, also known as exactly the person most able to afford a new HD Radio. Do we as an industry really want to pitch the latest and greatest audio technology by linking it to the word “deaf”? I don’t eat “rotten” food, I don’t buy “poison” pills and I’d rather not buy a radio that will make me “deaf.” Soon to come, the News/Talk versions of the spots. “Are we def yet” – on News/Talk?!.

2. Judging by these spots, the way we describe the radios keeps…changing. Is it “HD Radio” or “HD Digital Radio” or “High Def HD Radio,” as in these spots? Can we as an industry just PICK ONE? I’ll leave aside my thoughts on whether any of these are worthwhile labels. How do you confuse potential consumers? Call a product by several different names.

3. These spots ignore some critical issues in favor of an attempt to generate “cool”. For example, what problem does an HD Radio solve?

4. At this stage of the game, the most important thing broadcasters can do is to put listeners in the proximity of an actual HD Radio, not send them (presumably) to an explanatory website. GET THEM TO A RADIO. Where do I hear the HD Radio? Where do I buy one? You’ll never know from these spots. If they don’t hear it, they won’t buy it.

5. Who is the target audience for HD Radio? Judging by these spots, the target is limited to folks who produce clever radio spots and the radio programmers seduced by them.

6. What is the purpose of this campaign? I suspect it’s to generate “awareness.” This is the wrong goal. Awareness is not the problem. Reason to be aware is the problem. Opportunity to sample is the problem.

I honestly give these guys credit for trying. Really, I do. But what is the strategy behind this campaign? And is it a Clear Channel strategy or an industry (i.e., HD Radio) one (in other words, do we have ONE strategy, or dozens)? Do we have a clear sense of what our product is, who our target audience is, how to sell a radio, what problem the radios solve, and what may be the primary obstacle(s) to stepping up to HD?

Last year I posed many questions, challenges really, that need to be addressed by the industry powers-that-be in order to maximize the odds of success for HD. I’m still hoping we invest the effort to arrive at answers.

To be sure, good products can be launched with bad spots (the launch TV spots for XM and Sirius were unfortunate at best), but they cannot be launched with bad strategies.

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