Sirius CMO: How To Build On Surging Brand Awareness


Fans of funny famous people -- from Conan O’Brien to Alanis Morissette, Alice Cooper to Larry Fitzgerald -- are already smiling at the second “season” of SiriusXM’s ad campaign. The gang lives in “The House of SiriusXM” to let people know they can listen to the satellite radio’s content anywhere -- not just in their cars.

The first effort launched last September, anchored by Kevin Hart, LL COOL J and Dave Grohl. And it increased brand awareness of the brand’s non-car status by 40% -- tough results to follow. Denise Karkos, chief marketing officer of Sirius, tells Marketing Daily about building on that momentum.

Marketing Daily: Tell us about the strategy behind the new work, from Translation.

Denise Karkos: When I got here three years ago, we were on a journey to articulate that SiriusXM wasn’t only available in the car. We had spent 20 years building the brand as a premium in-car audio subscription. But as more competitors come into the car and as we look for new sources of growth, we’ve developed this app. And we’re trying to shift the perception.



We built this analogy of the SiriusXM house to showcase our breadth of content. It’s a metaphor for everything that lives in the app, with a 360-degree campaign. And it caused a 40% lift in that perception awareness.

Since then, we’ve continued to improve the app to be a truly digital-first experience. We’ve added more content, extra channels, and some personalization features.

New team members living in the house show the breadth of music, like Morissette and Cooper, as well as Mickey Guyton, Brad Paisley and 2 Chainz. The spots highlight our new connection with Conan O'Brien and sports figures like Larry Fitzgerald. We want to show off our podcasts and talk content, too.

Marketing Daily: So it’s all about non-car listening?

Karkos: No. The car is still incredibly important, and you’ll see that this season, too. We’re advancing its capabilities with 360 L, which allows for streaming and satellite content to be deployed in cars, delivering more content in a more personalized fashion.

Marketing Daily: What are the most important metrics for this effort?

Karkos: We’re looking to see how many trials we drive and how many subscribers. And what we were pleasantly surprised with last year is that a campaign about the app created a bigger benefit to the satellite business. Twenty years of investing in that value proposition does not go away with one campaign. So we saw a lift for both platforms, in trials and subscribers. So we will be measuring the revenue impact on the entire business.

Marketing Daily: That was unexpected?

Karkos: Yes, to a degree. There will always be some halo–when I was at L.L.Bean, for example, you’d advertise a tote bag and sell jeans. So I’m not surprised it’s happening, but I am by the magnitude.

Marketing Daily: Any other surprises?

Karkos: That Alanis Morissette is hysterically funny. And that our audience is paying attention to live sports. One of our value propositions is that we have live play-by-play of every major league sport on our app. And anytime we had a spot on an NFL or NCAA football game, we saw a massive spike in traffic to the website, and Google searches for our brand. That wasn’t replicable anywhere else we placed it. Football completely resonates with our audience.

Marketing Daily: Who do you see as your biggest competitors at this point? Apple?

Karkos: Yes, Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music -- every digital brand you would imagine. But really, the biggest competitor is still AM/FM radio. Those stations may be in decline, but they still have the majority share of overall listening.

Marketing Daily: Will there be a Season Three?

Karkos: We always envisioned this as a three-to-five-year campaign. However, we're making such advancements in the app that we may need a more product-forward strategy going forward. We may need to showcase the features and benefits of the new interface.

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