XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR ) may not be able to get around the regulatory gridlock at the FCC, but it can help you get around traffic gridlock.
Adweek is reporting that XM is launching a new marketing campaign this week, hitting 30 major markets with TV spots to promote its NavTraffic gridlock monitoring service.
XM has been offering NavTraffic for years. However, you have to love the timing of the "Get there faster" campaign, just as oil prices are hitting record highs. It's also the right market to hit, since XM and rival Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) have been growing through automaker installations in light of weakness at the retail level.
It's also good to see XM getting aggressive on the marketing side. Ever since XM and Sirius went public with their merger plans 15 months ago, the companies have scaled back their ad expenditures. It's not just fiscal prudence. I have suggested that the two companies are keeping a low profile on purpose. If you're trying to humbly win regulatory approval -- and the merger is only halfway there -- you don't want to shout your praises from the sponsored rooftops.
This doesn't mean that XM is alone in navigational gadgetry. GPS giants like Garmin (Nasdaq: GRMN ) , smartphone makers like BlackBerry's Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , and General Motors' (NYSE: GM ) OnStar have been raising the stakes in roadmap routing. XM's service offers the benefit of real-time workarounds to traffic pileups, but the playing field is leveling quickly.
Perhaps that is why XM is willing to crack open its marketing budget to get the word out. It needs to stand out in a growing field of competing devices. It may also need to stand out, just in case the merger with Sirius comes undone.
"Get there faster" isn't just a marketing slogan. Absent a rival product from Sirius, it may be the key to "get there faster" relative to Sirius, too.
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