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JBL runs TV ads; watch out, Bose

Hi-fi and audio ads on TV are rare, but JBL ran a few on Sunday night's Grammy Awards show.

Maroon 5 grooving to JBL sound. JBL

I nearly fell off my couch when I saw Harman Kardon and JBL ads in the middle of the Grammy Awards show on Sunday night.

Audio-brand awareness in the mainstream is mostly limited to Bose and Beats by Dr. Dre, but now it looks like Harman, the parent company of AKG, Harman Kardon, JBL, Mark Levinson, Lexicon, and Infinity is starting to flex its muscles. I spoke with Chris Dragon, the senior global marketing director of Harman, to learn more about the campaigns.

JBL's "Hear the Truth" ads will feature many of the world's top musical artists, including Maroon 5 and Paul McCartney. The company will also be working with China superstar Liu Huan, '80s rock legend Night Ranger, and the multiplatinum group Styx. Dragon said, "Harman wants to elevate JBL to megabrand status."

Just like old times, when I lusted after the JBL L100, the most iconic rock speaker from the 1970s. Dragon promised me that JBL has a large slate of products designed to recapture the brand's glory days once again. There's an L100-inspired speaker in the works, and the new speakers and headphones will start to be released in the coming months. JBL engineer Greg Timbers, who designed some of the brand's greatest speakers, is working on a new line that is sure to awaken my passion for the brand. Prices will start around $700 a pair.

The campaign will be seen on NBC, ABC, USA, TNT, TBS, MTV, and VH1. Late-night talk-show fans will see JBL advertising in almost every major segment, from "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," to "Jimmy Kimmel Live," to "Last Call with Carson Daly."