Subaru Changes Creative Course

Temerlin McClain is repositioning Subaru of America this summer in a new campaign tagged “When you get it, you get it.”

Vehicles co-star with “Subaru people” in eight new television spots from Temerlin. The series marks a departure from previous work featuring Paul Hogan. That campaign, which ran for eight years, used the Australian actor’s down-under quirkiness to personify the brand.

Subaru, according to agency executive creative director Eric McClellan, has always been a niche product, appealing to people who perceive themselves as marching to a different drummer.

But the company’s change in creative strategy also shifts the focus towards the performance of the brand’s diversified lineup touted in the ads. These models include the Impreza WRX, Forester and Outback. The work also introduces the Baja, a car-truck combo reminiscent of the automaker’s Brat.

Subaru’s estimated 2002 ad budget is $140 million, up from $125 million in 2001, per CMR. Client representative Rob Moran would confirm only that a “significant portion” of the total is earmarked for the new campaign, adding that monies are also spent on niche marketing and cross-promotional projects.

The spots broke last week on the Tony Awards telecast and will continue to air on CBS and NBC programming including The West Wing, Will & Grace, Judging Amy, Everybody Loves Raymond and Dateline. Cable buys include A&E, Lifetime, CNN and the History Channel. Supporting print appears in People, Time, Martha Stewart Living and other lifestyle magazines.

Subaru’s image has evolved be-yond the rugged individualist, said Dennis McClain, chief executive of the Irving, Texas, agency. With sticker prices climbing to to an average of $25,000, the Cherry Hill, N.J.-based client wanted advertising that touted the vehicles’ engineering and its discerning customers.

Each commercial speaks to the values Subaru owners hold, said McClellan. In “Watering Hole,” three management types discuss their weekend. One dined at a fine restaurant. The Subaru owner, flashing back on an afternoon spent chasing butterflies with his daughter (and a Forester), had an equally good time. Perhaps better.

“His values are consistent with getting out and doing things,” said McClellan. “He gets it.”