GSD&M Preps $200 Mil.+ HD Radio Push

LOS ANGELES Omnicom Group’s GSD&M Idea City has landed a yearlong creative project for the HD Radio Alliance with estimated media spending of $230 million, according to both client and agency.

There was no review for the business, which had previously been handled in-house. Katz Media in New York handles buying chores.

Austin, Texas-based GSD&M expects to produce about 10 radio spots per quarter this year. Because of the unusual media weight of the campaign, the agency contends the push could rank among the largest radio-driven efforts of all time.

San Antonio-based HD Radio Alliance is a coalition of owners and operators that includes Beasley Broadcast Group, Bonneville International, CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting/ABC Radio, Clear Channel Radio, Emmis Communications, Entercom, Greater Media and WBEB, Philadelphia.

The $230 million figure represents the value of the media to which the partners have committed. The alliance spent $20 million on ads in 2006 and $30 million through October 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, but that only counts spending on ads using the “HD Radio Alliance” tag and does not include the value of all the time dedicated for the effort.

GSD&M has already begun producing work. The ads feature the voice of cartoon character SpongeBob (actor Tom Kenny) as a conventional car radio calling its owner and leaving messages as if it’s a jilted lover. “You know, I could totally pick up those new extra HD stations if I hit the gym,” the radio says in desperation. “Is that what you’re into now? Huh? Call me!”

The spots break this month. They are tagged with embedded co-marketing of HD radio partners such as Wal-Mart and RadioShack, as well as plugs for electronics manufacturers such as Sony, JVC, Dual, Apple, Polk Audio, Best Buy, JBL and automakers such as BMW and Ford.

In fact, the agency came to the alliance’s attention through its national campaign for BMW, touting the HD radio option with the tag, “HD radio: Discover it in the ultimate driving machine.”

“Over the last two years, the alliance used radio inventory to promote the partnerships with companies like RadioShack and Best Buy,” said client CEO Peter Ferrara. “But while we’ve been trying to carry the HD Radio message to consumers, everyone has been doing it their own way. We need to move from awareness to intent to purchase, and messaging will be the real driver to connect to the consumer.” Ferrara said that while previous campaigns drove awareness to 77 percent, only 33 percent of consumers understand the new consumer electronics technology.”