Subaru's hilariously human-seeming dog family, the Barkleys, were a big hit when they drove onto the scene two years ago in ads from Carmichael Lynch. And now they're back for more low-key comic hijinks.
The first new spot, a :60 titled "Puppy," is the best of the lot, showing a tired Mr. Barkley driving around at night with one of his pups, trying to get him to sleep. It's one of those themes that just instantly connects with parents—McDonald's did a memorable take on it with its wonderful drive-through ad back in 2010.
The Subaru spot is great, too, taking its time in slowly building the humor, with some great facial expressions from the doggie driver.
Four 30-second spots are amusing as well.
In one, the Barkleys drive their Subaru Legacy on a back road and pull over to get help from their smartphone's voice assistant. But their limited language doesn't get the job done. In another, Mr. and Mrs. Barkley enjoy a nice dinner out, and spring for valet parking. But after dinner, when they emerge from the restaurant—clutching their doggie bags—they find that the valet has been having a bit too much fun with their Subaru Forester.
The final two ads deal with a bad hair day and a problem with the windshield wipers.
All five spots will air nationally in the coming weeks, including Feb. 7 during Puppy Bowl XII on Animal Planet—marking the sixth year for Subaru as the event's official auto sponsor. (The campaign will also run the same day on Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl, where the valet spot could get a standing ovation.)
The stereotype of Subaru drivers as dog owners is backed up by the data. Over half of Subaru owners do indeed have a dog, the automaker says, and dog ownership among Subaru drivers actually grew by 49 percent between 2008 and 2013.
The ads come at a good time for fans of dogs in commercials, too, given Budweiser's decision not to produce a third straight puppy spot for the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, following the smash hits "Puppy Love" and "Lost Dog."
"Since we introduced the lovable Barkleys to the world in 2013, consumers have been patiently waiting for the next round of creative to see where their journey would take them next," Subaru of America vp of marketing Alan Bethke tells Adweek. "With the new 'Dog Tested. Dog Approved' campaign, we hope drivers everywhere will enjoy and relate to the latest escapades of the Barkley family, while seeing a bit of themselves along the way."
Client: Subaru of America
Vice President, Marketing: Alan Bethke
National Advertising Manager: Brian Cavallucci
Advertising Production Specialist: Michelle Shoultes
Agency: Carmichael Lynch
Executive Creative Director: Randy Hughes
Copywriters: Nick Hart, Nick Nelson
Art Director, Associate Creative Director: Michael Rogers
Head of Production: Joe Grundhoefer
Executive Senior Producer: Brynn Hausmann
Business Manager: Vicki Oachs
Account Management Team: Brad Williams, Paula Weisenbeck, Greta Hughes, Allie McConachie, Robert Ar
Project Management: Kelsey Doherty
Production Company: Skunk
Director: Brian Lee Hughes
President: Matt Factor
Chief Operating Officer, Executive Producer: Shelly Townsend
Executive Producer, Head of Production: Jeanne Stawiarski
Line Producer: Geoff McClean
Director of Photography: Jason McCormick
Editing House: Drive Thru
Editor: Mick Uzendoski
Smoke, Flame Artist: Derek Johnson
Producer: Beth Wilson
Telecine: Company 3 / Sean Coleman
Audio Mix, Sound Design: Sister Boss / Carl White
Postproduction Audio Producer: Sister Boss / Annie Sparrows
Original Music: "Puppy," by Echo Boys "Buster Naptime"
On-camera Talent: The Barkley Family