Subaru Outback: MY 2010

DDB Canada

Section I — Basic information

Business Results Period (Consecutive Months): October 2009 – December 2010
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: October 10, 2009
Base Period as a Benchmark: October 2008 – June 2009

Section II — Situation analysis

a) Overall Assessment

Outback's best days were behind it. It had been a key model in the Subaru line-up, accounting for 28% (4,300 cars) of total Subaru unit sales in 2001. Since then, Outback had been in major decline, selling just over 2000 units in 2008, or only 11% of total Subaru unit sales. Outback was no longer relevant to new car buyers and had become a drag on the entire Subaru franchise. We needed to spark growth of the core Outback model in order to get the Subaru brand firing on all cylinders. The challenge was trickier than in the past. Although awareness of Outback was reasonable, familiarity and purchase intent were almost negligible. The model just wasn't on the consideration list of new car buyers. Those who were familiar with Outback, (including previous and current owners), categorized it in the dying "wagon" segment. The only chance we had was to re-position it as a fresh, new, small SUV. With a Subaru share-of-voice of less than 2%, we needed to compete against deep-pocketed giants like Honda (CRV) and Toyota (RAV4). Although design changes made Outback styling similar to conventional SUVs (higher clearance, taller, etc.), other functional attributes remained much as they had been. To make it tougher, the whole industry was advertising fire sale prices and incentives to combat the recession, while Subaru planned to maintain pricing and profit margins. We also had to avoid cannibalizing Forester sales, which we had just finished re-positioning as a small SUV as well.