Subaru to shift image

In an attempt to live up to its two-year-old ad theme, “What to Drive,” Subaru of America announced a restructuring last week that includes staff reductions and a search for a marketing pro to right Subaru’s listing image.
George Muller, who had been an executive vp, is assuming the position of president as evp Chuck Worrell, who had been in charge of sales and marketing, retires. Muller, a finance executive, admitted that Subaru has let its image wander from its core values.
At this juncture, it is difficult to assess the long-term fate of agency Wieden & Kennedy/Philadelphia. But clearly, W&K will receive added scrutiny when a new marketing chief from the outside is hired, as Muller last week pinned Subaru’s woes on its muddled image.
“We’ve gotten sidetracked over the past few years and have tried to be all things to all consumers,” said Muller in a statement. “We’ve lost our identity and are not satisfied with what we’ve become.”
What Subaru has become is a company trying to be mainstream without having enough money to do so. Whoever the new marketer is at Subaru, that person, said Subaru executives, will guide the company back to its core image of a fourwheel-drive, alternative-choice vehicle, an image it tried to leave behind in the late 1980s.
In addition to W&K, Subaru has also been working with Dentsu America, which lost out to W&K in the client’s 1991 ad review, exploring “promotion” opportunities.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)