CAMDEN, N.J. — Despite love being a staple of Subaru of America’s marketing since 2008, it was no sure thing initially.
In fact, it took some visual efforts to even get the love campaign off the ground, Alan Bethke, the automaker’s senior vice president of marketing, recalled during an interview here in July.
In 2007, Subaru’s fortunes in the U.S. were far different than what they are today. The automaker sold 187,208 vehicles that year; its market share was 1.2 percent. Brand identity was not strong. The automaker needed a jolt.
And so, Subaru reached out to its customers, whom Bethke described as very loyal and super passionate, to ask why they kept coming back to the brand. Love of their vehicle was a common response.
But the marketing department’s task of selling the idea of shifting to emotion-based advertising was easier said than done.
“Everyone else is advertising price, deals, sales events, features and comparisons,” Bethke recalled. “We were telling our Japanese executives, the executives here and dealers, ‘Hey, forget about all that. We want to talk about love.’ It was like our hair was on fire. They were like, ‘You are absolutely out of your mind. You’re crazy.’?”