Thursday, February 12, 2009

HD Radio and Valentine's Day -- Stick with the flowers

Remember when your parents tried to be cool and use your lingo? Cringe-worthy, wasn't it?

That's sort of the same feeling I got when reading this splendiferous HD Radio press release. The basic idea's fine, but the execution, the demographic the message is aimed at, and pretty much every other aspect of the thing shows the same lack of comprehension our parents displayed when they tried to show their hipness.

The idea is a good one: after years of trying to persuade people to purchase HD Radio tuners to make it worthwhile for broadcasters to invest in content, the HD Radio Alliance is trying the reverse. For Valentine's Day, they're offering special music programming that will only be available through HD2 channels. As they say:

WHY: Because meeting Smooth Jazz on HD Radio was fate, becoming HD Radio's friend was a simple and easy choice, but falling in love with Smooth Jazz on HD Radio, now that's a perfect Love Story.
So if you want the programming, you have to buy the radio. That's what should have been happening all along.

And while they've finally come around on the concept, the execution is decidedly flawed. Here's the pitch: For Valentine's Day radio stations across the country will be broadcasting a special smooth jazz programming to get everyone into the mood for romance. All you need is an HD Radio tuner, and....

Listen and relax with the likes of peaceful Kenny G, silky Sade and Benson and the soulful Marvin Gaye. These multicast stations... are providing some of the best romantic smooth jazz ballads to make your special day a little sweeter
Ick. Only someone living in radioland would think this is a good idea. Let's break it down, shall we?

1) The format -- Smooth Jazz appeals to primarily to 25-54-year-olds, skewing slightly female. Audio gear is purchased primarily by men. So only about half the people they're pitching to are potential buyers.

2) The coverage -- The scope of the project is underwhelming. While we're talking about nationally distributed programming, it's riddled with caveats. First, it's only being broadcast in select cities. If you're in East Weewah, WI, too bad, or Richmond, VA, or Denver, CO or many other cities. So take the group of potential buyers from Point 1 above and trim it by about 80%.

3) The programming -- Who wouldn't want a non-stop mix of romantic music for Valentine's Day? I do. So I've set up a special playlist on my iPod. And that's what more than a few people will do -- those that just don't choose an appropriate Internet radio station, that is. After all, I don't like Kenny G, so having him in my Valentine's mix would be, um, something of a buzz kill. Why take a chance? I can select all the songs I want, hit random play, and start talking like Barry White. Ooooh, baby!

4) The concept -- If you take a step back, the whole concept's pretty goofy. To make Valentine's Day special, you should purchase an HD Radio tuner. Yep, nothing says "love" to your partner like specialized audio components! And what's the point, here? To provide background music? See Point 3. To show your love? I'm thinking flowers, candy, dinner, and more importantly, time together might be a better and perhaps less expensive choice.

And what happens after Valentine's Day? Will the smooth jazz continue? Will it change to something else? Will those channels go dark? I don't know. But I sure as heck would want to before shelling out any kind of serious dough. According to the press release,

Tell her you really love her with the clear and dulcet tones of Smooth Jazz on HD Radio
It's so Romantic!
Thanks, mom and dad. I think I can take it from here.

- Ralph

Day 233 of the WJMA Web Watch. (I wonder how many of the staff will be given their wives/girlfriends HD Radios for Valentine's Day.)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:11 PM

    What a flippen' joke - consumers will never have any interest in this joke of a technology. Just to think, the HD Alliance paid good money for this asinine ad - it will fail, as all the rest.