Pioneer’s New View on Word of ‘Mouth’

NEW YORK Pioneer wants people to know that it makes more than just speakers.

The Long Beach, Calif.-based electronics company has launched an integrated campaign for its new high-end Kuro television from TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., that it hopes will do just that.

This is the first campaign from the agency since it added the account in May.

The effort, which launched last week, consists of three 30-second spots, outdoor in markets such as New York and Los Angeles and print in magazines including Esquire and Food and Wine. Banners will appear on sites such as Yahoo! and MSN.

The push is set to run until the beginning of next year.

Pioneer spent about $17 million in media in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, and the company said it expects its ad outlay to triple in 2007.

In a black-and-white 30-second spot called “Mouth,” a woman’s lips are seen in extreme close-up. As she smiles, licks her lips and makes biting motions, the camera pulls back to reveal that the mouth is actually the pupil in an eyeball. Print and outdoor use similar monochrome images, such as a hand with the fingertips replaced by ears and an eye in the middle of someone’s chest.

The campaign features a new tagline, “Seeing and hearing like never before,” which is being used for the home entertainment division. The other parts of the company, such as sound systems, will retain the “Sound. Vision. Soul” tag.

Potential customers weren’t thinking of Pioneer’s high-definition televisions when they went into stores, said Russ Johnston, evp, marketing and product planning at Pioneer. “When a consumer goes into a retail store these days, they are overwhelmed by manufacturers’ specification terms, like ‘1080p’ and ‘LCD.’ We’ve decided to pull away from the technical lingo and discuss the emotional aspect instead,” he said.

Pioneer’s move comes as one of its competitors for high-end consumers, Philips, introduces a campaign for its Aurea TV. The Aurea effort includes an emotional appeal, perhaps signaling that consumers have become confused and frustrated by the always evolving and difficult-to-penetrate TV specification nomenclature.

Part of Pioneer’s attempt to reposition itself is to focus on a demographic it is calling the discerning entertainment junkie. “This person packs entertainment into their life wherever they go. They’re early adopters, they go to movies and concerts and they have, or want, a killer high-definition system,” said Johnston. “They get frustrated and upset watching things in standard definition once they have experienced high definition.”

For TBWA\C\D, the challenge is getting that consumer to consider Pioneer products. “They should feel like it looks like Pioneer is doing something a little more upscale and different than anyone else. They should be saying to themselves, ‘This doesn’t look like the Pioneer we’re used to,’ said Jerry Gentile, agency group creative director. “The whole thing is trying to reposition Pioneer. Everyone knows Pioneer as making the speakers in your car, and they actually make some of the best TVs in the world.”