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PIONEER CAR SOUND SYSTEMS
AGENCY: BBDO West, Los Angeles
CLIENT: Pioneer Electronics, Long Beach, Calif.
MEDIUM: consumer print
CREATIVE DIRECTORS: David Lubars, Chris Robb
ART DIRECTORS: Barney Goldberg, Elke Ditschuneit
COPYWRITER: Xenia Rutherford
PHOTOGRAPHY: Lars Toplemann (main shot), Rick Chou (headlines, product)
PRINT PRODUCTION MANAGER: Denise Casstevens

Good headline. Too bad the type makes it a chore to read. What does this sort of lettering have to do with stereos, cars or boulders? Body copy is no typographical day at the beach, either, set sidewise in all-caps sans serif that looks like it leaked out of a defective printer. Doubtless legible type is strictly from squaresville, but even hipsters might be willing to skip the eyestrain now and then. As it happens, the text is funny in a Beavisesque way. “Nothing can be heard above such hard-hitting bass. ‘What?’ We said, Pioneer subwoofers use an advanced composite foam IMPP cone that’s strong but light, with a seamless cone design.” And so on, ending with one more “What?” for good measure. Even highly inattentive readers–and we suspect there are a few of those in Pioneer’s audience–will grasp the point that one of these sound systems can rock their eardrums.

THE HARTFORD
AGENCY: Arnold Communications, Boston
CLIENT: The Hartford, Hartford, Conn.
MEDIUM: gay press
CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER: Ron Lawner
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Kathy Kiely
ART DIRECTOR: Amelie Barvenic
COPYWRITER: Bob Shiffrar
PRINT PRODUCER: Pam Noon
PHOTOGRAPHY: John Holt

When companies make a point of catering to some put-upon minority, they can scarcely resist the temptation to pat themselves on the back–as if they didn’t expect to make money out of the deal. What’s notable about The Hartford’s ad is that it manages not to sound self-congratulatory. A good thing, too. Gays will give the insurer credit for stepping forward. But they’ll also regard the offer of discounts to “committed” gay couples (paralleling those traditionally available to married couples) as nothing more than they’re entitled to expect. They’d likely be put off by an ad that treated the matter as one giant leap for homosexualkind. Playing off a popular Seinfeld episode, the low-key humor fosters a sense that The Hartford is treating gays as a normal market niche, not a special one. The ad creates much the same effect by matter-of-factly lumping gay couples and married heteros together under the “Commitment” rubric.