What Does Subaru Know about Making Your Marketing Dollars Work

What Does Subaru Know about Making Your Marketing Dollars Work?

In marketing, as in all administration, the simple things are the most powerful. When the simple, basic laws are fully grasped and intelligently applied, the result is increased productivity, expansion and influence.

In his works on administration, L. Ron Hubbard extensively covered the subjects of marketing and promotion, defining promotion as follows:

“Promotion is, of course, an essential part of marketing.

“It is the action of making something well known and well thought of.

“It is the art of offering what will be responded to.”

A detailed look at automaker Subaru and its marketing approach serves as an excellent illustration of marketing dollars hard at work generating growth for a company.

Subaru was founded in 1954 as a subsidiary of Japanese aeronautical engineering firm Fuji Heavy Industries.1 With these unique roots, Subaru staked its claim as a manufacturer of all-wheel-drive vehicles. Al Ries, branding expert and co-author of the book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, said: “Only three automotive brands are very powerful. BMW equals driving. Mercedes-Benz equals prestige. Subaru focuses on affordable all-wheel-drive. Automakers should narrow the focus.”2

Subaru’s focus on efficient all-wheel-drive vehicles established for it a small but loyal customer base, yet the company remained an underdog in the automotive industry. While continuing to develop better cars, Subaru would have to make its marketing more compelling. Mr. Hubbard sums up what marketing and promotion must accomplish:

“RESPONSE is the key word here. Whether it’s in terms of services sold or commodities sold or communication or goodwill, it’s response that is the test of all promotion.”

Subaru gradually built up its reputation for making safe and reliable automobiles with a unique “symmetrical all-wheel-drive” engine design, and its cars became particularly popular in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest regions of the U.S.

In 2007, Subaru enlisted Minneapolis advertising firm Carmichael Lynch to helm its marketing efforts,3 a move that paid off handsomely for the automaker. “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru4 became not just the slogan but the overriding branding message.5

Subaru buyers were known to be educated, frugal, outdoorsy and family oriented. Their average household income was $88,000, while 36 percent purchased their cars with cash (i.e., no financing necessary) and remained largely untouched by the recession (as did Subaru itself).6

The purely emotional concept of “love” was brilliantly incorporated into Subaru’s message and advertising. With their education and intelligence, the underlying motivation of its customers was “love,” and this resonated with even more buyers.

Subaru found out what its customer base was seeking and got the response.

Before you sink your hard-earned dollars into a marketing campaign, do excellent survey work, follow the laws above and do not skimp on quality when it comes to your promotion and your message. Note that the word art is used in the definition of promotion. Your “market” is made up of individual people, families or groups that respond emotionally to communication; so while there is considerable science behind marketing, it is also a distinct art form.

When you do the phases of a marketing campaign, keep precise statistics and monitor responses and sales. Look closely for what works and what doesn’t, and remain alert for any steps in the process that may have been omitted or done incorrectly.

Learn and follow the basics. If you do it right, you’ll see results.

Good luck!



  1. http://www.subaru-global.com/ourstory/heritage.html
  2. Williams, Casey. “Why Subaru is one of the hottest automakers in the U.S.” Chicago Tribune. February 26, 2015.
  3. Halliday, Jean. “Subaru drops DDB, taps Carmichael Lynch for $150M account.” AdvertisingAge. October 16, 2007.
  4. http://carmichaellynch.com/work/subaru-love/.
  5. Nudd, Tim. “How Subaru fell in love and never looked back.” Adweek. April 8, 2013.
  6. https://teamsubaru.wikispaces.com/Marketing+Strategy.
  7. Greimel, Hans. “Subaru projects another year of record U.S. sales.” Automotive News. January 14, 2016.


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