BBDO Fine-Tunes Pioneer’s Car Audio Ads

LOS ANGELES New print work for Pioneer’s mobile entertainment division from Omnicom’s BBDO West breaks in May-dated magazines this month, the agency confirmed. The $5 million campaign steers the brand in concert with the changing faceplate of the products themselves.

“Up to this point car audio has been about how loud you could be, your presence on the street,” said Tom Hollerbach, president and CEO of BBDO West in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “But Pioneer has moved the category to being not just about sound but about visual presentation on the inside. Whereas the interior of cars hasn’t really changed that much, the new equipment can make them look like cockpits.”

Pioneer’s new high-end line, including the AVIC-N1, goes beyond playing CDs and MP-3s to features like a GPS memory-navigational device, touch-screen display, rear-camera input, DVD player and a vehicle dynamics indicator of the car’s acceleration, velocity and G-forces through a curve.

“The message last year was ‘We understand your lifestyle and how important it is to your peers and the people around you,’ ” said Michael Townsen, vice president of marketing, Pioneer mobile entertainment, Long Beach, Calif. “This year, we’re on the inside, looking out.”

One of the five new executions, all of which use posterized photographic effects with different dominant colors, provides continuity with last year’s campaign in its emphasis on sound and street presence. A car blows through Hollywood, where a handbill on a lamppost reads, “Everyone gets a free concert when I roll by.” That contrasts with the new emphasis, which can be seen in an AVIC-N1 ad, which shows a car in the background and street signs indicating the intersection of “As a Matter of Fact” and “I Do Own the Rd.” Illustrator Evan Hecox and art director Heward Jue created the ideal urban corner.

“A lot of this campaign rides on reading the younger audience, and they are not willing to experience the same sort of advertising over and over again,” added Hollerbach. “At the same time, we recognize that the market is evolving to an expanded audience. We see it going older, with the leading edge having much the same attitude about car audio as the younger target.”

“Last year’s campaign was effective at grabbing the attention of consumers and delivering a subtle message, then sending them to a Web site for more information,” said Townsen. “This year the core media plan is still focused on the young man and the enthusiast, but we’ll expand that a bit.” Print executions continue to direct readers to a Web site, designed by EVB, San Francisco, which uses moving picture elements that match the ads.

Townsen said Pioneer commands about 20 percent market share in the single-CD player and speaker aftermarket, but seeks dominance in the new market for high-end combo devices such as the AVIC-N1.

The company recently hired Omnicom’s Integer, Denver [Adweek Online, April 2] as a promotional marketing partner. Pioneer’s car audio division spent $15 million on advertising in 2003, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.