Subaru Turned to Dog-Owners to Increase Sales (It Worked)

Of all the Japanese carmakers, Subaru probably has the most character. Toyota is just a big corporation with soulless products, Nissan has sold out to the French at Renault, Mitsubishi appears to be lost with Mazda being the only one that comes close regarding its ability to convey emotion.
2018 Subaru Crosstrek 1 photo
Photo: YouTube screenshot
It's difficult to put the finger on what it is exactly that enables Subaru to have this brand image, but the fact it's the underdog might have something to do with it. Of course, Subaru wouldn't mind swapping places with Toyota in the sales charts even if that meant losing that status, but to (hypothetically) achieve that, it serves to play the underdog card first.

The first thing the company did right on the U.S. market was associate itself with a competent advertising agency. It was Carmichael Lynch that launched the "Love" campaign back in 2008, and Subaru has stuck to it ever since.

Built around very careful analysis of the brand's core target demographics, it focuses on three things that are very important to these people: family, the outdoors, and their Subaru. Despite not topping the sale charts, the Japanese company has a very loyal clientele in the U.S. and a wonderful community.

With one or more dogs sitting in almost half of the Subaru back seats in the U.S., using the canines for advertising purposes was a no-brainer. This is how we ended up with the pair of pooches doing donuts in a Subaru Forester and all the other dog-based commercials.

For this year, there is a slightly more subtle approach to the theme, which also doesn't involve dogs doing un-dog-like things. It's also a lot more emotional for anyone owning a mutt (you know, because dogs really are like that), which is no doubt what the creatives at Carmichael Lynch had in mind in the first place.

The second clip is no less of a tear jerker, even though this time it'll make you think of your grandfather (or grandson, depending on which side of the halfway point in your life you are). Both are somewhat badly acted but beautifully filmed, and the presence of the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek helps as well.

So, how well did this approach do for Subaru so far? The company has sold 423,728 vehicles so far this year in the U.S., which accounts for an 8.1 percent increase over the same period last year while overall sales have dipped 2.7 percent. August sales have also been pretty strong with 63,215 units, 4.6 percent up compared to 2016. So don't go calling a sales representative a "dog," but yeah, apparently dogs do sell cars.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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