CASSIES Gold: Subaru gets out more

The Canadian launch for the 2010 Outback, handled by DDB, becomes the most successful in the world for the model.
POP Outback Car Topper

GOLD: Automotive and DIY • GOLD: Best Launch

Situation Analysis: In 2001, Outback accounted for 28% of Subaru unit sales but had since lost more than half of its franchise. It was in the dying “wagon” segment, and the only chance for 2010 – despite a limited budget and competitors like Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4 – was a repositioning. Although design changes made the 2010’s styling similar to conventional SUVs, other functional attributes remained much the same. To make things tougher, the industry was advertising fire sale prices to combat the recession, while Subaru planned to maintain pricing. Outback also had to avoid cannibalizing Forester, which was repositioned as the sexy small SUV.

Strategy & Insight: Research uncovered the fact that target consumers saw current small SUV options as not particularly capable beyond day-to-day city driving. They were open to a new small SUV that could take them places that others couldn’t. And with its unique symmetrical all-wheel drive feature, Outback could deliver. Also, because this “most capable” position was so different from sexy, Subaru would ideally be able to own it without cannibalizing Forester.

Execution: For the October 2009 launch, the insight was that despite aspirations for the great outdoors, people work long hours, leave their cubicles, go home, turn on the TV or computer and flake out on the couch. The “Maybe you should get out more” idea was born and launched on TV by spoofing the infamous Snuggie infomercial. This was backed by print that had Outback adventurers in hard-to-reach landscapes. Meanwhile, the Get Out More website was launched, with direct mail and social media following. Finally, a second flight of TV spots aired in March 2010 with a phony infomercial — for the Lap n’ Snack — and continued until the campaign ended in April 2010.

Results: Sales during the campaign (October 2009-April 2010) were more than quadruple the previous year, and held at +82% for the remainder of 2010. Impressively, these results were achieved without cannibalizing Forester, which grew 7% during the campaign period, lifting Subaru’s share of the Japanese small SUV segment to 8%, compared to 5% before the campaign broke. Based on this, the Canadian campaign was considered the most successful launch of the 2010 Outback anywhere in the world.

Cause & Effect: There was a direct link between the timing of the advertising and sales, with no other significant communications, sales or marketing efforts going on at that time. Media spend was at historical levels, and pricing was maintained at a premium to competition.

Credits:

Subaru Canada
VP, product planning & marketing: Ted Lalka
director of advertising: Geoff Craig

DDB Canada / Toronto
business lead: Michael Davidson
account director: Geoff Taylor
CDs: Andrew Simon, Dre Labre
writer/ACD: David Ross
AD/ACD: Paul Wallace
AD, DM: Jake Ritter
writer, DM: Carmen Toth
ADs: Missy Kelly, Ciara O’Meara
copywriters: Leilah Ambrose, Tiffany Chung
managing director: Andrew McCartney
digital strategist: Dustin Rideout
producer: Damian Nimeck

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