Crocodile Dundee Dropped From New Spots

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DETROIT ( -- Leaving behind Crocodile Dundee, Subaru of America returns to national broadcast TV advertising for the first time since 1997 with a new campaign that
In one new spot, nature lovers enjoy a Subaru moment until interupted by a clod driving another brand of SUV.
hopes to make potential consumers feel "smart."

With this latest round of advertising, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Temerlin McClain, Dallas, the automaker will attempt to show that Subaru owners are "unique individuals" who go their own way. In this case, they go using all-wheel drive, which is how Subaru wants to distinguish itself in the marketplace.

New tagline
The new umbrella tagline is "When you get it, you get it." The line is paired with the marketer's long-standing theme of "The beauty of all-wheel drive," which was modified somewhat to "The beauty of Subaru all-wheel drive" to help it stand apart from other carmakers that have started to advertise their all-wheel-drive models. Subaru vehicles are only all-wheel drive.

Australian actor Paul Hogan, best known in this country from the popular Crocodile Dundee movies and who began starring in Subaru commercials for the 1995 Outback launch, doesn't appear in any of the eight new 30-secons spots. Mr. Hogan "was an idealized version of our customers. Now this [campaign] is about the character of our customers," said Mark Darling, vice president of marketing at Subaru.

Mr. Darling said all wheel drive wasn't an emotionally compelling enough reason for people to buy Subaru. The new work, he said, gives consumers "an emotional reason to buy because it says something about you as a consumers -- you're smart. You get it. We believe it's a state of mind."

Disturbing a Subaru moment
The redone Forester sport utility vehicle is being launched with two new spots. Outback gets three. One shows an Outback owner setting up to photograph a southwest sunset in the middle of nowhere. Suddenly he's interupted by another SUV blaring music and driving in front of his tripod. That noisey driver sticks a disposal camera out the window and shoots the photo.

Another shows a couple in an Outback who stop to admire several deer in the woods. A clod of a driver in another SUV noisily approaches, scaring the animals away. Subaru's internally-named "Deer Spotting" commercial differs from Chrysler Group's TV spot earlier this year

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that showed owners of a Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV saving deer from hunters. Chrysler yanked the spot from Omnicom Group's PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich., after hunters' groups complained the spot villified them.

Tony Awards
The campaign breaks during the June 2 Tony Awards broadcast on Viacom's CBS. The TV flight includes national cable networks, with print arriving in June titles. Mr. Darling said efforts for Forester and Outback continue through August and will be succeeded by the launch of the all-new Baja pickup and new executions for the Impreza WRX performance car.

The automaker decided to pretest its campaign ideas, something it wasn't able to do in recent years because it was committed to creative with Mr. Hogan.

Research showed the actor was most recognized and most closely associated with the Outback. "Now we're more than Outback," Mr. Darling said. "It's very difficult to uplift your brand. It can't be accomplished by a single character. You have to communicate something about the brand and why Subaru is preferred."

Mr. Darling declined to discuss the campaign's spending, but he did say his 2002 ad budget rose by a single-digit percentage vs. last year.

Subaru spent $121 million in calendar 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Through April, the marketer sold 53,898 vehicles vs. 55,177 the same period a year ago, says sibling Automotive News.

"We stayed out of the incentive wars, and that cost us some momentum," said Don Hicks, a Subaru dealer in Aurora, Colorado.

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