Subaru Bows Armstrong Strategy

Put the knife back in the holster, mate. Subaru is trading in its Aussie image for a new global picture and benching Paul Hogan in favor of Lance Armstrong to get it done.

The company launches its new campaign in support of several vehicles including the new outdoor oriented WRX in mid-May. Called “Subaru: Driven By What’s Inside,” marketing VP Rick Crosson told MDN that the campaign will be the biggest ad spend for the company to date. Spread across TV, print, radio and outdoor, the creative will show Tour De France champion and new Subaru spokesperson Armstrong on various bikes and in various Subaru vehicles. The point is to unify Subaru’s brand character under one spokesperson and one creative strategy.

“If it weren’t for Paul Hogan and the work he did for Outback, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Crosson. “But we wanted something that was more performance driven and more mobile. Instead of doing that via several fragmented campaigns we wanted to come back to one brand. We wanted to come back to the synergy that Subaru has.”



Subaru has stayed with a spokesperson as a centerpiece for its ad campaigns for a few years. While its competitors have leaned toward music licensing and zero financing, Subaru has positioned itself as rough, tough and accessible to females. Crosson said he could not compete with the Fords and GMs in the music and financing areas, nor would he want to with his budgets. With Armstrong he wants to establish Subaru cars as individual, grounded, passionate and pacesetting.

“We have used spokespeople to connect very well with our consumers,” he said. “It’s not easy for every brand to do that. We tend to go our own way in a lot of business practices. We find that our consumers feel that way about themselves.”

Most of the campaign will go to TV. The only thing Crosson would say about the spots is that they will “show Lance riding road bikes, mountain bikes and cars.” The relationship with Armstrong will include sponsorship of the US Postal Bike Team, for which Armstrong has captured four straight titles. Subaru will also be involved in the Lance Armstrong Foundation, to benefit survivors of testicular cancer.

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