BBDO Riding in Cars With Boys

Preparing for a new task from Pioneer Electronics, the creative team at BBDO West conducted what is best described as a mini focus group on wheels.

According to Jim Lesser, creative director at BBDO West in San Francisco, the agency took the pulse of young male auto enthusiasts simply by piling into a car and cruising around with them. “Good advertising starts with understanding the consumer,” he said. “We went to unusual lengths to get into the heads of the target audience.”

After using a consultant to recruit a group of serious car lovers, the BBDO team spent a few nights on the town with them. Their observations helped shape a print effort, set to launch in May in electronics, music and men’s magazines, including Super Street, The Source and Maxim. The ads will run through September. Spending is estimated at $5 million.

The ads focus on the consumer electronics firm’s car audio line. A BBDO campaign last year reinforced a passion for the products. The new work is more of a lifestyle effort, said Tom Hollerbach, BBDO West president and CEO. “Pioneer wants to show [the target] that we get your lifestyle and we make the products that enhance it,” he said.

The ads are photo collages, chronicling chapters in the lives of car enthusiasts. The photos appear to be stapled to the paper, and show cars and drivers (some actors, some not). The copy is all hand-scribbled.

In one ad, copy reads: “It’s not just your car. It’s your best friend. Your lover. Your therapist. And it deserves the Pioneer DEH-P9400 MP CD receiver.” Another reads, “My car gets 37 songs per gallon.”

The ads carry Pioneer’s corporate tagline, “sound.vision.soul,” which BBDO West developed after winning the $20 million corporate branding business last year. This is the second campaign with the tag.

BBDO West, with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, has worked with Pioneer for more than 10 years. It also handles the 64-year-old company’s home audio division.

Executives at Pioneer in Long Beach, Calif., could not be reached.