A Tale of Two Spots: Subaru Brings Safety Message Home in Very Different Ways

Automaker Focuses on Teens and Family Dynamic in New Campaign

By Published on .

Any parent who has ever heard the phone ring in the middle of the night will identify with Subaru's commercial breaking tonight: it's your terrified teen calling to say he or she wrecked the car.

The emotional new spot is one of two that the automaker is airing on cable and network TV to back its safety message, but the other is vastly different in tone. The second uses humor to make its point, showing a succession of kids -- who are trying to walk off with potentially dangerous things like razors, sledgehammers, skis, chainsaws and ill-advised boyfriends -- being told by parents, "You're not taking that." At the spot's conclusion a teen asks to take the Subaru and is told yes.

The more serious commercial shows shaken teens telling their parents they are sorry they wrecked the car, greeted with relief by parents that their children are O.K.

The campaign, from Carmichael Lynch, is an extension of a safety message that Subaru has pursued since at least 2013 when it ran commercials showing totaled Subarus with the message "They lived." In recent months, the automaker has also been promoting its IHS Safety Ratings for its Eyesight Driver Assist technology that allows the car to stop itself prior to a head-on collison.The new safety message carry the brand's longstanding tagline, "Love. It's what makes a Subaru a Subaru."

It appears buyers are loving that. According to Automotive News, Subaru unit sales rose 13.4% in 2015, up from 513,693 units the prior year. For the first seven months of this year, sales were up 2.7% over the same period in 2015, to 331,551 units, Automotive News said.

The Subaru brand spent $390 million in total U.S. marketing last year, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

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