SUBARU'S '99-MODEL ADS FOCUS ON ALL-WHEEL-DRIVE: SPENDING UNTIL END OF YEAR SHOULD REACH ABOUT $25 MIL

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Subaru of America introduces its 1999 models on national cable TV Aug. 31, with commercials that emphasize the performance of its all-wheel-drive vehicles.

The importer will spend an estimated $25 million during the last four months of the year.

The campaign will include a new sponsorship of National Public Radio's Morning and Weekend editions starting this fall.

Print advertising starts in newsweeklies Sept. 4, with monthlies Fast Company and P.O.V. having been added to Subaru's magazine roster.

Subaru also is doubling spending on Web banner ads, said Tim Mahoney, director of marketing. He declined to give details.

MORE THAN DOUBLED

Last fall, Subaru began incorporating its Web address (www.subaru.

com) into ads. Since then, the number of user sessions on its site have more than doubled, from about 40,000 to more than 100,000 monthly, he said.

TV spots for the Outback sport-utility wagon, Forester SUV and Legacy sedan also will appear on broadcast outlets in 35 key spot markets.

Australian-born actor Paul Hogan returns as pitchman, his fourth consecutive year for the brand. He appears in two of the six humorous spots with actor Judge Reinhold, now in his second year for the car marketer.

Agency Temerlin McClain, Dallas, has changed the plot from bad guys chasing good-guy Mr. Hogan. Instead, the creative demonstrates the vehicles' performance and all-wheel driving systems.

DRIVING SCHOOL POSSIBLE

As part of its new strategy, Subaru said it's discussing a performance-driving school with Panos Motorsports at the Road Atlanta track in Georgia.

Mr. Mahoney said an additional spot will be produced this winter. "We'll have more in our creative inventory than ever before," he said.

Subaru will raise its ad budget by about 10% next year. Earlier this year, the carmaker said it expected to up its 1998 ad budget by about 13%.

Subaru spent $78.8 million in measured media in 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Subaru sales through July rose 17.7% to 78,827 compared with the same period in '97, according to Automotive News. Calendar 1997 sales reached 133,783, up 10.8% from '96.

The brand has been on the comeback trail since 1994, when it went back to its all-wheel-drive roots.

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