- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2005

XM Satellite Radio is hoping to drive new business by targeting attendees at major auto shows.

The District-based satellite radio company is grabbing the attention of these attendees — who number between 600,000 and 1.3 million depending on the show — with an interactive booth that gives them a chance to test-drive XM.

The auto-show strategy, which will put XM in at least 21 shows in the next three years, hopes to build the number of subscribers through new-car purchases. XM is available in 120 new vehicle models.

About half of the company’s 3.2 million subscribers come from new XM-equipped car purchases. That part of the business has been growing rapidly, said Jeff Curry, director of marketing for XM Satellite Radio.

“Auto shows are the single best place to reach new car shoppers and car enthusiasts,” he said.

XM offers 130 digital channels for a $9.99 basic monthly subscription fee.

The objective is “exposure — and the exposure turns into sales,” said Tom Coyne, chief executive officer and executive creative director for Coyne Communications, a Morristown, N.J., marketing firm that created XM’s auto-show strategy.

XM’s exhibit centers on an XM-branded radio tower with the company’s signature sound waves. Attendees can listen to XM radio using the company’s latest hardware. The exhibit also features carlike listening booths, where attendees can hear XM channels as they “drive” with the help of a television screen that simulates driving down the road.

The exhibit directs attendees to manufacturers’ booths that have XM radio available in their cars, such as General Motors, Volkswagen, Honda and Nissan. Those manufacturers have at least one vehicle at the show in which XM is activated.

XM’s new exhibit debuted in November at the South Florida International Auto Show in Miami. The company was at the Washington D.C. Auto Show in December and wrapped up at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show last week. Currently, XM is at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which lasts through Sunday and draws more than 840,000 attendees.

The company will be at three more major shows this season, including the National Automobile Dealers Association 2005 Convention in New Orleans, where XM will appeal to dealers to help sell the product.

“Dealers are extraordinarily important,” Mr. Curry said. “They have a huge influence over the consumer.”

XM will continue to advertise using traditional mediums such as television and radio targeting the country’s more than 200 million car and truck drivers, as well as home radio users.

Ad club miffed

The Advertising Association of Baltimore (AAB) is up in arms about a decision by Maryland Public Television (MPT) to hire District-based McAndrew Co. Inc. to handle its three-year, $750,000 advertising account.

James Astrachan, AAB’s president, said in a letter to MPT and the Board of Public Works that awarding McAndrew Co. the contract will “deprive Baltimore and Maryland agencies of the revenue and good will associated with the rendition of these services.”

This sounds a lot like the Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington Inc.’s protest over the Washington DC Convention & Tourism Corp. hiring Baltimore’s Eisner Communications in 2001.

MPT responded to the association’s letter, defending its decision and McAndrew Co., which has been a Maryland corporation since 1991. The two sides are still fighting as MPT awaits approval by the Board of Public Works.

Jim McAndrew, the agency’s vice president and creative director, says he was surprised by AAB’s protest.

“We went through the whole procurement process,” he said. “We worked hard to win.”

McAndrew Co., which does business as DesignHouse,was built in Maryland, opening its doors in Rockville in 1989. The female-owned agency, which has a two-year-old location in Dupont Circle, had an office in Maryland until last year.

Mr. McAndrew said the agency is opening a location in Annapolis within the next 30 days — a plan the firm had well before the AAB protest.

Mr. Astrachan says he is “trying to create some awareness” among government and quasi-government agencies searching for a new ad firm.

“You need to look in your own community,” he said.

Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising & Marketing runs every other Monday.

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