Grey wins $40m account to launch DTH radio

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LONDON -- WorldSpace, a Washington, D.C.-based company that is launching a satellite-based system to broadcast digital signals direct to inexpensive radios owned by consumers in emerging markets, has awarded its global consumer launch campaign to Grey Worldwide. WorldSpace said it is spending $40m on advertising and marketing support for the launch. The account will be coordinated by the Grey Communications Group in London.

WorldSpace will deliver, via its own system of three satellites, between 50 and 100 stations of music, news, entertainment and educational programs to emerging and underserved markets, including Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East. The service area will eventually include more than 4.6 billion people.

"It will become a highly significant medium for advertisers reaching the major emerging markets," says Roger Edwards, chairman and chief executive officer of Grey Communications Group. "We are flattered to have been chosen on a global basis to work with WorldSpace in creating this new force in communications."

WorldSpace's first satellite will be launched by Ariane in June 1998. Transmissions for Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin will take place in autumn 1998. The launches for Asia and Latin America will follow at six-month intervals.

WorldSpace's launch campaign will be leveraged by the promotional activities of the four Japanese consumer electronics companies contracted to make the radios capable of receiving the digital radio programs direct from WorldSpace's satellites. The four are Hitachi, Panasonic (Matsushita), Sanyo and JVC. The radios are portable, but are designed for stationery use. They aren't made for in-car use.

WorldSpace hopes to benefit from the promotional activities taken by the increasing number of broadcasters that are reserving channel capacity. Program content for the radio channels will be provided by local, regional and international suppliers. In July, U.S.-based financial news service Bloomberg signed up to supply WorldSpace. Bloomberg will broadcast 24-hour news and information on 23 channels. Bloomberg will feed programs in English, Spanish, French and Italian on the AfriStar satellite; Japanese and English on Asia Star; and Spanish, Portuguese and English on AmeriStar.

WorldCom's marketing team is lead by McAdory Lipscomb, senior vice president of sales and content. The team includes Tiffany Norwood, vice president of international development, responsible for developing relationships with broadcasters to obtain leasing agreements for WorldSpace's Channels. She will also seek local content providers for each country. Rod Calarco is vice president programming and sales and will oversee the development of WorldSpace's advertising services. Joshua Simons is vice president marketing.

Grey will manage WorldSpace out of London using a dedicated team comprising a management director, strategist and creative director. The team will access Grey's global network via regional directors in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa.

Grey's Edwards says: "We will be looking to our corporate identity specialists, The Partners in the U.K., for brand and identity work; to MediaCom for advertising revenue opportunities; to GEM in the U.S. for programming expertise. And we will field teams in Africa and then Asia Pacific to help the sell-in of the concept at grass roots level."

Also pitching for the launch account were J. Walter Thompson, Bates Dorland, Young & Rubicam, McCann- Erickson and D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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