Signs Sheryl Crow for New Campaign's Commercial Music

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DETROIT ( -- Subaru of America, in a quest to broaden its reach, is lifting a page out of Volvo's playbook to advertise its all-wheel drive models for 2006.
Photo: AP
The Subaru B9 Tribeca sport utility vehicle.
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An integrated campaign breaking today on national TV will tout safety awards the carmaker has won from independent third parties. The focus of the campaign will be on active and passive safety, a hallmark of Ford Motor Co.'s Volvo. Subaru inked a one-year deal with singer Sheryl Crow to use her song “Every Day Is a Winding Road” in all its TV and radio ads, said Tim Bennett, director-advertising. In addition to new broadcast commercials, the song will also be laid over existing ads. He declined to discuss terms of the deal.

Omnicom Group’s DDB Worldwide, New York, handled the campaign.

Performance and safety
“Subaru is still the only manufacturer to that puts all-wheel-drive on all its cars,” Mr. Bennett said. All-wheel-drive made the brand popular in snowy areas in the Northeast and Northwest. But the Fuji Heavy Industries-owned company wants to move the brand out of that weather-related box. “We need to take all-wheel-drive and move it to a performance feature and a safety feature.”

Subaru has successfully added performance to its repertoire with its Impreza WRX.

Subaru fell short of its goal of selling 200,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year, a goal it plans to hit in 2006. The company said it sold 196,002 Subarus in 2005 vs. 187,402 the prior year. Most of the boost can be tied to last year’s launch of the B9 Tribeca sport utility vehicle. More than half of Tribeca buyers were new to the Subaru brand, mostly from other Asian models, said Bill Cyphers, VP-sales.

The automaker spent $135 million in measured media through November 2005 compared to $159 million in calendar 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Shifting media mix
Subaru is shifting its media mix this year. Although Mr. Bennett wouldn’t reveal specifics, he said the brand will increase online spending 15% compared to last year; beef up its radio buy by 10% (including Sirius satellite radio); and have a much lighter presence on weekend TV, when its active owners and target buyers are presumably tooling around in their all-wheel-drive models.

The new campaign will include out-of-home ads with provocative statements aimed at sending passers-by to “Air bags save lives. All wheel drive saves air bags,” one billboard will say.

The advertising will keep the “Think. Feel. Drive” tagline developed by DDB nearly a year ago after it won the account.

Mr. Bennett said he met Ms. Crow at a Subaru-related cycling event, although the marketer and DDB considered hundreds of songs over three months. Ms. Crow’s ex-boyfriend, Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong, had appeared in Subaru ads from 2003 until last year.

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