CAMDEN, N.J. — Subaru of America is hooked on a feeling.
That feeling is love, an emotion that has been a recurring theme in the Japanese automaker's U.S. marketing since 2008, evolving and growing, just like the once-niche brand.
In its latest TV commercial, Subaru is shifting the love theme from its products to the philanthropic efforts of its retailers.
Named "We Call It Our Love Promise," the 30-second clip shows various scenes of Subaru retailers working in their communities, whether fundraising or volunteering for causes. Subaru of America CEO Tom Doll is also shown at a Camden school event, where the automaker donated books to children.
The commercial ends with "Love. It's what makes Subaru, Subaru," a subtle change to the automaker's tag line of "Love. It's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru," the phrase introduced in a 2008 commercial that launched a new marketing era.
Outside of vehicles briefly seen on a dealership's lot, there's not a single Subaru featured in the spot — and that's intentional, said Alan Bethke, Subaru's senior vice president of marketing, during an interview at the brand's U.S. headquarters here in July.
"There's no cars, there's no offer, there's no incentive, there's no comparison of our product against anybody else," Bethke said. "There's no traditional automotive trappings of any kind. It's just designed to say, 'You can love our brand, and you can love our retailers.' "
Subaru's Love Promise, says Bethke, is a companywide initiative tied to the community and customers.
"We're basically saying to the consumer, 'At Subaru, we have a Love Promise. Our company has it, and our retailers have it,' " Bethke said. "And our promise is to do good and to make our touch points with our brand and with our customers' experiences based on love."
The new commercial, which was to debut on TV last week, follows the footsteps of Subaru's TV commercials for its Share the Love year-end sales event in 2016 and 2017, which didn't show vehicles. Instead, they highlighted charities supported by donations from Subaru and its retailers.