Sirius Revs Up Satellite Radio Pitch

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Sirius Satellite Radio hopes to win the race with XM Satellite Radio to capture the hearts of auto enthusiasts by hosting marketing stunts like the one it pulled this past weekend at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

The company was the title sponsor of the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 race. It chose the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing event for a variety of reasons, vice president of marketing Philip Philla said last week. One of them was that top car manufacturers DaimlerChrysler AG and Ford Motor Co. — which each have agreements with Sirius to sell certain models of their cars with satellite radios built in — are located in nearby Detroit. The Michigan raceway is also one of the largest on the Winston Cup circuit and attracted a sold-out crowd.

Michigan International is also home to a recreational-vehicle park with 30,000 RV enthusiasts on site.

Sirius wants to be the mobile audio service of choice to both race fans and RVers. It's the exclusive satellite radio provider of Speed Channel and offers other racing coverage through ESPN.

Because the satellite radio service offers coast-to-coast coverage without loss of signal between DMAs, it's something that RV drivers or fans who travel to follow races from one track to another could appreciate.

GOING NATIONAL

After a limited rollout earlier this year, Sirius is set to launch nationally on July 1.

"We're going to come out firing on all cylinders," Philla said.

The satellite radio company also launched its Mobile Install Team, offering on-site installation of the mobile audio units at the racetrack. The company waived the installation fee as part of the promotion. Technicians from consumer electronics retailer Circuit City were on site to handle the installations.

Race fans also had a chance to sample the service at listening stations over the course of the three-day event.

"Our marketing is very much based on experiential marketing and sampling," Philla said.

Sirius also sponsors Casey Atwood's racecar on the NASCAR's Winston Cup circuit, which runs from January to November.

Philla recounted wearing his Sirius hat while standing next to racing fans who told him they planned to subscribe to the satellite radio service because the company supports the sport.

"Fans understand the sport would go away if the sponsorships go away," he said.

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