Subaru shows the Impreza as a cure for boredom

The automaker takes a cue from pharma ads as it looks to boost the compact car's awareness.

Nietzsche once said “against boredom, even gods struggle in vain,” and Subaru is having fun with tedium to show that its new Impreza model is not a dull sedan.

The new campaign borrows tropes from pharmaceutical ads, featuring a series of young drivers afflicted with boredom, desperately seeking excitement by sliding down staircases and balancing spoons on their noses. There’s even a reference to failing to skip the ad itself as a symptom of boredom. When they are given a ride in the “fast-acting” Impreza, their symptoms begin to vanish.

Ted Lalka, VP of marketing and product management for Subaru, tells strategy that as Subaru is a small automotive brand compared to competition, and used to spent less on marketing. Now, the automaker has been changing course and focusing on building awareness with concepts that position Subaru as a unique alternative to mainstream brands.

With Impreza in particular, Lalka says, the challenge is that it suffers from low levels of awareness and familiarity compared to Subaru’s other models, like the Outback. It challenged agency Zulu Alpha Kilo to come up with a unique effort that used humour in an intelligent way to communicate that the model is fun to drive and to highlight its functionality.

“The compact car market does not have to be a boring segment,” Lalka says, pointing to someone in the spot reaching “the end of the internet” as their phone fails to scroll, as a different approach to building engagement in the category.

Subaru has a great reputation for reliability, durability and safety among those familiar with the brand – the new Impreza was recently named Best Compact Car in the 2020 annual Automotive Lease Guide Canadian Residual Value Awards – factors that remain important to car buyers. Lalka says humour is a useful gateway to broach these subjects, especially when the brand can deliver on those benefits.

“It’s not just a matter of being different, it has to make sense to people,” Lalka says.

The brand used humour to highlight functional attributes when it promoted the Outback model last fall by comparing it with a goat and playing off an acronym for “greatest of all time.” It is an approach that has worked for the brand in the past, such as award-winning campaigns for the Sumo.

The automaker’s customer base is broad, he says, but that this campaign is targeting those in their 20s and 30s.

Subaru launched the campaign nationally with TV, digital, OOH, cinema, Spotify ads and dealer initiatives. Zulu Alpha Kilo led strategy and creative development with Agence Rinaldi handling Quebec market creative (Lalka says the campaign works equally well in both official languages, and it did not have to be modified). OMD was behind the media planning and buying.