DETROIT -- Subaru of America Inc. hasn't advertised in the Super Bowl since 1993 and won't again in 2010. Instead, the automaker is the car sponsor of the Puppy Bowl, which airs on cable TV's Animal Planet opposite the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Subaru will have at least seven new “low cost” TV commercials arriving during the Puppy Bowl, Tim Mahoney, the automaker's chief marketing officer, told Automotive News today at the Detroit auto show. The work, from Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, features dogs as drivers and passengers in funny, humanlike situations.
The ads are part of a new blitz themed “Dog Tested” and reflect Subaru's nearly year-old sponsorship of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The company's “Share the Love” year-end clearance sale helped raise money for the nonprofit ASPCA. Since mid-2009, Subaru dealers have staged nearly 200 pet adoption events, Mahoney said. The dogs in the ads are from animal shelters.
Mahoney's boss, COO Tom Doll, credited Subaru's record-setting U.S. sales in 2009 to improved products and increased spending on advertising and marketing over the past two years.
Defying a weak 2009 economy, Subaru led the industry with a U.S. sales advance of 15 percent in 2009, increasing market share to 2.1 percent from 1.4 percent in 2008. Hyundai-Kia came in second among gainers with a 9 percent sales rise.
Subaru spent $195 million in U.S. measured media in 2008, the latest full year for which data are available from TNS Media Intelligence.
Mahoney said his 2010 ad budget is about the same as 2009, although he would not reveal specifics. He wants an ad later this quarter boasting about Subaru's back-to-back wins of Motor Trend magazine's annual SUV of the year award for the Outback, the first time any brand has won two consecutive times.
Shawn Wright contributed to this report.