Although the effort hasn’t officially debuted, I’ve had a chance to hear a few of the upcoming new radio spots that are at the center of our industry’s effort to boost its image in the public mind and defend itself from the onslaught of Satellite.
A noble goal. And a dismal failure.
“Radio, you shouldn’t have to pay for it” and “Some things were just meant to be free” are two prominent catch-phrases in the spots which sound like typical radio fare until they’re interrupted by a phone operator’s message: “Please deposit 25 cents for the next three minutes.”
While I applaud the desire of the NAB to sponsor a pro-industry effort, such sponsorship must be done from the perspective of the listener, not the industry. Otherwise it sounds calculated and gratuitous and false.
This campaign is confusing and off-target in so many ways, I almost don’t know where to begin.
Here’s a start:
1. Is it wise to tell me “I shouldn’t have to pay for it” just at the time you’re trying to sell me a newfangled HD radio?
2. If more than 90% of America listens to the radio, but only about 10 or 15 million subscribe to Satellite this is like (as one critic told me) Coke spots criticizing RC Cola. When the system takes on the little guy, who do you think the public will root for?
3. Satellite subscribers are not buying radio – they’re buying the absence of commercials. In some cases, of course, they’re also buying the presence of unique and specialized talent unavailable to radio effective January 1, 2006. This means this campaign is talking nonsense to an audience who knows better. This campaign is preaching what we wish people thought rather than what they really do think.
4. Every message has a subtext, and the subtext of this one is “uh oh, here comes satellite – we’re afraid.” That subtext will ring loud and clear to the audience, who will uniformly ask “why is radio running these spots?” Their conclusion will be: Satellite is coming on. Radio must be afraid. Hmm, I should look into this satellite thing and see what all the fuss is about.
Every time you run a spot for or against Satellite Radio you are promoting it. If you want to do satellite radio a favor, run these spots.
Make no mistake. Controversy stokes intrigue stokes sales.
Just ask Paris Hilton.
Hear these spots for yourselves. And pray that you never hear them on the radio.