Sirius™ Mixed Messaging

Advertising and all it entails is a study in alchemy worth far more if unlocked than turning lead into gold if it can be repeated and applied successfully over and over again. You can only turn so much lead into gold until the gold would actually begin losing its value. (if it’s no longer rare its worth about as much as lead is it not?) However, if one could turn every advertising campaign into a world phenom pushing sales into the stratosphere no matter what the product or service, one might say that’s a process worth far more than the Sorcerer’s stone. Yet, what can turn a potentially golden opportunity into a lead balloon is advertising that not only misses the mark, it has the ability to sink a campaign faster than a stone thrown into the water. Hence, I give you today’s example – XM Sirius Radio™.

I have some background in advertising so it’s not as if I’m just criticizing for the sake of it. I look at all advertising through an eye as to see just how, and why, a certain commercial is formatted. Who is the audience they’re trying to reach? Why this vehicle? etc., etc. So I was a little taken back when for what seemed the 100th incarnation of “free service” for the satellite radio company came across my screen.

Here’s my take away and why I thought it was absolutely useless.

The commercial shows people either solo or in a family situation in their cars where they suddenly notice the satellite service is on. Then all happiness breaks out. Shouts of “yeah!” Or other expressed emotions of “all right this is great!” Great feelings of adulation was expressed by all. It is apparently a good time to be alive because, I guess,  until that moment – it was impossible to ever experience such joy in the car prior unless the satellite radio was on. Ohhhhh…Kayyyyyyyyy….

And here’s the rub: The cost of satellite radio for all intents and purposes is either in line, if not less per month than what many people (who are the target audience) spend for just one gourmet coffee concoction a day! And yet, the commercial sets up the argument unless it’s on for free they don’t use it. They know it’s there, they know how to activate it – but don’t or won’t for even the equivalent of a basic throw away item. And yet, if it’s on? Let the good time roll and fun times be had by all!

I’ll say it again: They know they have it in their car (or they would not know that it was even turned on) all the while not only do they see it, but they interact with it via the same user interface they use daily for terrestrial. And yet the commercial shows they obviously don’t or won’t spend a nickel to use the service – unless it’s free. Again, they show them experiencing great fun and joy. And for less than they spend on a gourmet coffee it’s obvious – they’d rather leave it disconnected. What a waste of advertising dollars in my view.

This ad campaign was obviously sold to executives within the company who have no clue about the value of their product from the customer’s side. This is what “they” think a customer would or should react. Not the other way around. This has all the hallmarks of that classic example used ad nauseam where the money is spent trying to convince everyone their dog food is great – yet the dogs won’t go near it.

© 2014 Mark St.Cyr