Interesting piece in Brandweek about Subaru that confirms some of what I was talking about in the “Magic Advertising Words” post earlier this month.
Seems that Subaru sales are up 4% in the midst of the recession, despite having what Brandweek calls a “mediocre ad campaign.”
And the reason for that? Well, Subaru makes a really good, really well-priced car, that, despite years of bad and/or inappropriate advertising, has managed to replace the now high-priced Volvo as the L.L. Bean of automobiles: the sensible, well-made car that’s acceptable for people in leafy upper middle class suburbs to own.
Subaru’s current status seems to have everything to do with the car’s unique-yet-sensible design, excellent repair and safety ratings and rave reviews from publications like Consumer Reports and nothing to do with years of overly twee advertising, of the sort Randall Rothenberg wrote about so brilliantly in Where The Suckers Moon.
The lesson here is that when you have a great product, the wrong advertising matters less and less: positive word of mouth from your fans will eventually create the image the brand deserves. In Subaru’s case, it’s the anti-BMW, the “I don’t need to drive a status symbol” car that also says “I did my homework.” (Something the Brandweek article bears out: it seems most Subaru owners pay cash and come to the showroom ready to buy.)
That’s an image most Subaru owners can live with. I know I can: confession- we own two of them.