Pioneer targets males in print pitch

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As it continues to boost its brand profile in the U.S., Pioneer Electronics will launch a new print campaign in September magazines that seeks to tap the male passion for car and home electronics.

The strategy is a further evolution of the company's Vision 2005 goals outlined two years ago by top executives at its Japanese parent. Those goals include staking out global leadership positions in DVD; next-generation display technologies such as Organic EL and plasma; and digital networked entertainment; as well as becoming a major components supplier.

Pioneer has stepped up its brand-building efforts in the U.S. by taking a more comprehensive look at its advertising and marketing with the help of BBDO West, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The agency conducted focus groups in four cities to help contemporize the Pioneer brand and better integrate the look of the advertising in Pioneer's home and car divisions.

The goal, according to Michael Wakeman, exec VP-marketing for Pioneer, was to create a flagship strategy and to position Pioneer "as a marketer of products that people feel passionate about."

Pioneer is known as a solid marketer of car and home audio and video products, but executives have been looking to establish a more consistent connection with the brand's predominantly male target that extends from 17-to-20-year-old car audio enthusiasts to 35-to-55-year-old home theater buffs.

SHAKING STAID IMAGE

A "cradle to grave" strategy was conceived, born of focus group research by BBDO that found Pioneer was viewed as an older, staid audio receiver brand. Pioneer is seeking to alter that perception by repositioning the brand as one that markets products its target wants rather than needs.

In fact, its brand positioning is "At Pioneer we make products you desperately want."

To that end, Pioneer and BBDO looked across its target for some commonality and seized on guys' passion for electronics that spans their lives, whether the thunderous boom-boom of a car amp or subwoofer, or the pristine sound from a high-end DVD player or plasma TV.

"We want people to know that Pioneer puts as much passion into the products as you do; and for us, like you, everything else comes second," Mr. Wakeman noted.

Pioneer is budgeting a 20% increase in advertising from last year when it spent $29.4 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting, beginning with three spread ads for car stereos, three spreads for home theaters and two page executions focusing on DVD and rear projection TV.

The theme of the campaign, "Everything else comes second," features irreverent executions designed to tap consumers' enthusiasm for electronics and to showcase star products. The provocative "Coffin," shows an older gentleman lying in his coffin lined with Pioneer's family of DVD products and holding a remote control.

"Dashboard" shows a young, hip guy holding an entire dashboard on his shoulder with a Pioneer car head unit featuring Organic EL technology.

OVERALL SHIFT

The customer-centric messages mirror the shift in Pioneer's marketing overall, Mr. Wakeman said.

Print, running through January, will hit a mix of enthusiast magazines such as ESPN the Magazine, Maxim, Men's Health, Sound & Vision and Sports Illustrated.

Mr. Wakeman said an overlay to the car and home campaign is expected before yearend that will tout Pioneer's industry leadership as the first consumer electronics marketer to launch DVD Audio and DVD Video and in promoting DVD-RW (DVD-Rewritable) as a de facto standard.

The campaign is likely to be print only and will launch in conjunction with Pioneer's debut of DVD-RW products. He said a global tagline for Pioneer also is being considered, but declined to elaborate on specifics.

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