From the opening guitar riff of Electric Six’s song ‘Danger, High Voltage,’ they have you. As quick cuts reveal a mud-caked Forester, six bucket-toting sumo wrestlers stride through the shot. They move slowly, but the Subaru sumo carwash is anything but slow. As soapy sponges collide with sumo faces and giant bellies flop against passenger side windows, you quickly realize that what sets this spot above the car ad fray is the precise use of humour. This is pure viral-grade mini-film entertainment that never resorts to winding-road curve-hugging beauty shots.

DDB Canada’s CD Andrew Simon says that the inspiration for the spot came from ‘the guts of the car itself.’ They took a close look at the competition and realized that they needed to position the Forester as a vehicle sexier than the rest. And, quite simply, they needed to make sure that people could see the car, so although the sumos are the de facto stars, the SUV is in almost every shot.

When the agency set out to change the face of Subaru’s advertising, they hired director Jorn Haagen to visualize the tagline ‘Japanese SUVs just got a little sexier.’ Haagen clearly missed the ‘little’ part, but the 60-second sumo spot quickly went viral, garnering over 700,000 views online. ‘Subaru’s reputation was for great cars that were kind of boxy,’ says Don Durst, SVP sales and after sales at Subaru, ‘so that’s where the idea of using ‘sexy’ came about.’ Subaru wanted something risky and unique for the auto category, and they landed on an inimitable formula to reposition their Forester line.

The campaign also included print, radio and an online component that allowed you to do your own photo shoot with a sumo. All of this helped to smash sales records for both the Forester and the overall Subaru brand, driving its share of the Japanese SUV market up 5%. The successful campaign is now enjoying an extended print run expanded to other parts of the Subaru brand, proving once and for all that nothing can sell a car like a large, soaking wet, near-naked man.


Canadians are used to looking outside their borders for the kind of awe-inspiring, life-changing holiday destinations that set hearts pounding and spines shivering. St. John’s, Nfld.-based Target Marketing set out to bring those shivers home with new additions to the ‘Find Yourself Here’ campaign, first introduced in 2006, for the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Board.

The three new spots are truly the art of ad filmmaking at its best. Directed by Alar Kivilo, they focus on the spectacle of the fjords in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland’s unique heritage architecture and the L’Anse aux Meadows national historic site – North America’s only authentic Viking settlement – and seek to prove once and for all that there is no place like this anywhere else.

‘Most tourism advertising is very linear, an inventory listing of things to see and do,’ says Target president Noel O’Dea. ‘Our deep feeling is that tourism/place advertising should express and evoke the deep emotions and authentic ‘feeling’ of what it’s like to be in the place.’

These slow-paced, beautiful and big-screen-worthy 30-second spots concentrate on the spectacular places that make Newfoundland a unique haven for vacationing. In the L’Anse aux Meadows spot, a group of wide-eyed children peer over a rock at the site as the eerie voices of ancient Viking seafarers whisper in their ears, transforming the rugrats – and the viewers – into the ‘fearless warriors, out to discover a new world’ who once settled here. With this kind of rich, cinematic fodder for imaginary friends, who needs Disneyland?

The campaign also included out-of-home components such as a billboard along Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, where commissioned artist Cam Mahy taunted gridlocked commuters with a coastal scene that unfolded over three weeks. The program also featured sponsored air-quality reports for folks in Ottawa and Toronto, driving home the luxury of Newfoundland’s clean, smog-free air. As O’Dea points out, ‘Our job is to lay out the bread crumbs of the story so viewers can make their own discoveries about this land where the painter’s light is never flat.’

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