Pioneer targets tuners by spurning sex for information

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They are males aged 16 to 30, but sex doesn't sell to these guys.

That's one reason why Pioneer Mobile Entertainment Division rolled out a hip, high-tech microsite to push its auto-electronic products to this specialized group whose passion is cars.

These dudes are "zealots," said Jim Lesser, executive creative director at Pioneer Mobile's agency of record BBDO West, part of Omnicom Group. "They spend one paycheck on their rent and one paycheck on their car."

"In the past, we've used girls in bathing suits-they didn't like it," said Michael Townsen, VP-marketing for the Mobile Entertainment Division of Pioneer Electronics. "They told us in focus groups they want more information to learn about the products."

The challenge, though, is presenting product details in an enticing way to these men. "We were always limited by only being able to say so much in a print ad-they won't read it," Mr. Townsen said.

spurring growth

Last year, the mobile unit promoted an interactive Web site through print ads and tallied 13,000 visitors in the first month, according to EVB, the interactive agency that created the Web site.

The first month of this year's campaign, results are nearly double that: 20,000 visitors and 876,732 page views. As important, the visitors loiter. More than 25% of them spend upward of 10 minutes on the site.

"If someone spends two or three minutes with your brand, that's huge," said Jason Zada, EVB creative director.

Pioneer desperately needs to be on the radar of these so-called tuners.

"I would say this group represents well over 50% of our business, and they influence the other 50%," Mr. Townsen said.

For the 12 months ended March 2004, Pioneer was ranked No. 2 in the total audio category with a dollar share of 5.7%, according to the NPD Group. Sony took the No. 1 position, with a 19.8% dollar share.

The site, which went live April 12, is crafted so the viewer seems to be sitting behind the dashboard of a car on a busy city street corner. Built with Flash technology, it looks like animated line drawings or grainy photographs.

Traffic and pedestrians roll by in a different order depending on what the viewer does. Some moving objects are interactive. The proprietor of a fast-food truck tosses out a subwoofer and a CD player-along with the other products promoted on the site, when the viewer clicks "products." There's more product information available by clicking through to the corporate Web site. Posters on street lamps are carbon copies of the print ads.

music matters

Click on a jaywalker's "Music" T-shirt and tunes by independent heavy rock, electronic and hip-hop groups blare out. The songs, provided by media and marketing company Insound, can be downloaded and are changed every few weeks. "Music is probably one of the few ways to reach this hip audience," said Matt Wishnow, president of Insound.

The site mirrors the print ads, created by BBDO West, which tapped Evan Hecox, a skateboard illustrator. They are a mix of photography and sketches.

Full-page ads and spreads will run in audio, auto, music and young-male magazines in June through September. The site's URL is on the ads to drive readers online for more product information.

Last year's campaign was also integrated, and featured the cool, gritty style of Mr. Hecox. But four different URLs were featured on four different sets of ads. "It may have gotten confusing," Mr. Townsen said. "We learned to keep our integration simple."

Last year's URLs included words Pioneer wants the audience to associate with the brand, such as Pioneer-disturb and Pioneer-defy, but they may have been difficult to remember. This year's URL, is more memorable, he said.

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