Automotive Advertising News


Subaru Teams with ASPCA for a Heartwarming Commercial

November 26, 2018 Sarah Cavill

If you love dogs, you know they need a well-designed car that allows the freedom to shed, feel the wind in their fur, head toward adventure, and most importantly, keep them close to their human family. Or at least that’s what Subaru’s ubiquitous and adorable dog-centered commercials would have you believe. Throw some skis on the roof rack, the dog in the back, toss in a few kids, add a warbly song and Subaru is the clear choice.

Subaru’s history with dogs runs the gamut from the adventures of a motley crew of mixed-breed pals to the hijinks of the adorable Barkley family, to their latest “Share the Love” spot encouraging animal adoption. Subaru launched their dog-centered ads more than 10 years ago. Their internal data showed that Subaru owners really love their cars and their dogs, so a partnership between canine and car was formed. Here’s a look back at Subaru’s dog-friendly campaigns.

A Pack of Mixed Dogs Illustrate Subaru’s Inclusive Brand Image and Adventurous Spirit

The first run of dog ads for Subaru featured a rag tag group of mixed breeds headed out on the road. Whether canoeing or skiing, they embraced the grab-your-friends and get-your-car-dirty ethos of the brand. Subaru is for anyone who dares to take to the road, and anyone who can relate to the mishaps that can come with a day of adventure. The commercials managed to be relatable and funny while reinforcing what it means to own a Subaru. They tapped into dog owners and the adventure seeker market in one satisfying swoop. This campaign was also the launch of the “Dog Tested. Dog Approved” tag line.

Subaru Capitalizes on Their Suburban Demographics with The Barkleys

While the adventure-seeking pups of the original “Dog Tested. Dog Approved” campaign embraced adventure, the Barkleys are more conventional car owners. They drop their kid at school, teach her to drive, drink out of the toilet bowl — typical suburban dog behavior. If dogs drove cars. (Important safety note: The puppy uses a car seat. This is cuteness on steroids.) The typical Subaru owner is upper middle class, thrifty and college educated. So while these ads are played for laughs, they also emulate a strong demographic for the brand, and a niche within a niche.

Subaru’s “Share the Love Cause-Marketing Campaign Is a Natural Fit for Their Brand

Since launching their “Share the Love” initiative, Subaru and participating retailers have donated more than $118 million dollars to charity. In line with their love of animals, Subaru counts the ASPCA among one of the beneficiaries of Share the Love, contributing to the rescue, adoption and transport of 50,000 animals. Their latest commercial highlights this special relationship, showing a little girl falling for a scruffy pup at an adoption event. It’s a winning blend of cause and niche marketing, an area ASPCA has experience with.

Subaru’s Dream Weekend Is the Dog Commercial MVP

This ode to a very good dog nearing the end of his days is the ultimate dog ad for dog lovers. Based on true stories of owners taking their aging pups on their best last days, the graying old dog in this commercial gets his dream weekend. He eats barbecue, meets up with an old girlfriend, chews a perfectly new shoe and, in a truly poignant moment, gets his pick of tennis balls at the beach… but is a bit too tired to play. All his ferrying about is done courtesy of his human dad and their trusty Subaru. Truly a niche marketing home run.

Subaru’s blend of adventure, family and Japanese engineering (and the dogs that love them) has been, despite some recent revenue hiccups, a win for the car company, as they continue to cultivate their image as a safe, fun, family car, with strong niche marketing campaigns.

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Contact Digital Media Solutions today to learn how you can use niche marketing to create a winning campaign.

About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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