CASSIES Silver: Subaru’s rallying cry for increased sales

The auto brand put the "sport" back in SUV, engaging families with a twist on the typical test drive.
Cassies 2014 - Subaru Forester Family Rally Creative Elements

Off to a Good Start

Situation Analysis: With only 4% market share, Subaru is a small player in the compact SUV category where the Subaru Forester was perceived as “boxy,” outdated and ugly, an image derived from earlier model designs, many of which are still on the road.

After flat sales for much of 2012, sales were very slow at the beginning of 2013, 15% below the target for January and February versus an annual target of 20% growth. Prior to a new model launch due in 2014, interest needed to be reignited despite no significant model changes.

Insight & Strategy: Extensive research identified the target as urban couples aged 30 to 49 who are transitioning between life stages and considering a small SUV. They wanted greater capacity, but rejected vans and wagons because they wanted an active lifestyle, a spirited ride, and wouldn’t settle for a vehicle that was less than thrilling.

Research also revealed that the term “sport utility vehicle” had been watered down over the years. “Utility” had become the dominant focus at the expense of “sport,” a void that could be filled by the Forester with the strategy, “The Subaru Forester puts the ‘Sport’ back into SUV.”

Execution: Pre-launched on March 15, 2013, and rolled out April 8, the Forester Family Rally engaged real families to apply for a unique “test drive” experience on an actual rally course, done in rally race fashion. Real-time footage from the rally was used to support the campaign in television, print, radio, online, point-of-sale and social media. All communications directed consumers to a microsite where families could sign up to qualify for the next Forester Family Rally, watch the reactions of other real families “taking on” a rally course, learn more about the Forester, and sign up for a test drive.

A second Forester Family Rally was held in August, 2013, where participants raced against each other to win an all-new 2014 Forester. Footage from this event was used to update the microsite, and produce new TV and online content.

Beyond automotive-focused channels, the media buy included magazines such as Today’s Parent while online concentrated on sites covering topics such as parenting, men and women’s interest, and home and garden sites.

Results: Forester experienced record sales during the campaign period (April to October), 26% above target and an average of 397 units per month more than the same period the year prior, a 63% increase. Dealership showroom traffic was up 32%. Forester became the best-selling vehicle in the Subaru line-up in March, 2013 after trailing the lead model, Impreza, by 27% in unit sales, helping lift the overall Subaru brand to record sales during the campaign period, giving the company its best sales year ever.

Cause & Effect: Sales increased significantly as soon as the campaign launched, rising 64% vs. 2012 in March during the pre-launch phase, and 59% in April during the official launch, versus -16% in January, and -18% in February. Subaru maintained its full margin price and offered no special incentives or discounts on the vehicle during the campaign period when competitors had heavy price incentives in market. Forester’s pricing was approximately 10% higher than the competition. The number of Subaru dealerships remained constant and all dealers carry all models.


Client: Subaru Canada
Agency: DDB Canada
ECDs: Todd Mackie, Denise Rosetto
CWs: Allan Topol, Mark Biernacki
AD: Pete Ross
Agency producer: Andrew Schulze
Agency/digital producer: Stefan Fabich
SVP, business unit director: Michael Davidson
Account directors: Peter Brough, Scott Barr
Account supervisor: Julia Morris
Account executive: Lindy Scott
SVP director of strategic planning: Tony Johnstone
Senior strategist: Sandra Moretti
Strategist: Kevin McHugh
Senior cultivator: Melissa Smich
Director, social media:  Ed Lee
Information architects: Dale McRae, Daniel Wiseman
Digital production manager: Neem Ba Ha
VP, integrated operations & production: Cathy Kim
Sr. interface developer: Andrej Simeonov
Designer: Nick Bujnak
Editor: Jonathan Kirschenbaum
Print producer: John Stevencec
VP, director of print & graphic services: Rose-Ella Morrison
Studio manager: Jane Davies
Mac production artist: Jason Taylor
PR Manager: James Loftus
PR senior consultant: Greg Vallentin
French partners: Groupe Rinaldi
Event management: Vehicle Dynamics Group
Production company: OPC & Family Style
Post production: Poster Boy Edit, Alter Ego
Audio house: Grayson Matthews
Casting agency: Jigsaw Casting
Production company: Industry Films