Month: January 2014

Subaru’s “Meet the Barkleys” Campaign is Spot On. Woof.


I grew up in Bend, Ore., an 80,000-person town in the heart of the Cascade Mountain Range. People come from far and wide (mostly California) to enjoy the plethora of outdoor activities available in this Central Oregon oasis. From hiking, to biking, to skiing… you get the idea. If you’re an outdoorsman, Bend has what you’re looking for.

I’d estimate that 50 percent of the cars that navigate Bend’s many roundabouts are Subaru’s, and that within that group, 90 percent are Outbacks. Yoga mat in the backseat, stand up paddleboard or skis on the roof depending on the season, and a golden retriever or two nestled comfortably atop an organic, all-natural dog bed. The dog pictured above is Grace Kelly, my family dog, and the Subaru she’s sitting next to is my family car, the third Subaru we’ve owned since moving to Bend in 2001.

The description above all serves to say that I, as a Bendite, am the person Subaru was hoping to connect with in its latest series of ads titled “Meet the Barkleys.” Bravo, Subaru. Mission accomplished.

A series of four 30-second videos, “Meet the Barkleys” depicts a family of four furry friends driving around town in a sleek Subaru facing challenges humans can relate to, from a family road trip to teenage dating. There are two key things, in my opinion, that make this campaign a winner.

Emotion: Creating a compelling car ad that evokes an emotional response is difficult to do, as evidenced by the many automobile ads that settle for the boring “sleek car speeding through a salt flat” spot we’ve all seen too many times. With “Meet the Barkleys,” it looks like Subaru had an “a-ha” moment: Cars don’t evoke an emotional response out of people, but dogs do. Especially the type of person described above. The concept for this ad ties in perfectly with Subaru’s most recent slogan: “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.”Brands spend SO MUCH time and money trying to create an emotional connection between their target market and their product, and Subaru made it happen a few cute golden retrievers. Well done.

Shareability: Is it just me, or have cute pet photos have taken over the Internet? There seems to be something in every animal lover’s DNA that compels him to share every cute puppy or kitten photo he comes across. But the shareability doesn’t stop there. Subaru smartly catered to the average human’s shrinking attention span by making each ad just 30 seconds long, making them fun to watch… and watch again. And who wouldn’t rather share visual content over non-visual, as Amanda Sibley outlines in this blog post. In today’s social landscape, creating sharable content is crucial for brands looking to tell their story to a large audience, and Subaru did just that with “Meet the Barkleys.”

Like this post? Check out Emma Bazilian’s review of “Meet the Barkleys” in Ad Week.


A Taco-Flavored Guide to Content Strategy: 3 Lessons From Taco Bell’s Digital Success


“Content is king” … one of the most (over)used phrases in the communication industry today. What’s all the fuss about content and why are we still talking about it?

The answer is twofold:

  1. Content is the cookie; it’s how we draw our audiences into our brand or company story. Without compelling, differentiated content your marketing and communication programs will suffer. Michael R. Hunder does a great job of outlining why content is king in this blog post.
  2. It’s difficult to cut through today’s record-level online clutter, and marketers can’t seem to crack the code. Google CEO Eric Schmidt explains just how difficult it is with this quote: “Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.”

As I sat at my computer thinking about which brands were dominating the content marketing world, a Tweet popped up on my timeline that read “#TacoBell makes me happy.” I thought to myself, “what a random thing to post?” Then I clicked on the tweet to reveal it had garnered 3,420 retweets and 2,537 favorites. After a bit of digging, I uncovered that Ad Age named Taco Bell Marketer of the Year last year. My search for a content marketing strategy to examine was over.

Here are three key lessons marketers can learn from Taco Bell’s slam-dunk content strategy:

  1. Know your audience. Taco Bell’s content is aimed at the 16-24-year-old demographic. This is an active group on social media, so Taco Bell focuses its content marketing efforts primarily on these networks. It has built a significant following on each of the major social networks by posting fun, sharable content that its target demographic connects with (see the Tweet mentioned above.) If you’re trying to sell hearing aids, my guess is that your target audience isn’t 16-24, and I’d argue social isn’t the best platform for your content. Establish your audience, find out where they’re spending their time and build a presence there.
  2. Team up with the cool kids. Taco Bell has strategically partnered with celebrities that appeal to its audience. By aligning its brand with these individuals, Taco Bell won over its key demographic. Taco Bell’s celebrity partners like DJ Dillon Francis and social celebrity Tyler Oakley have between 60,000 and nearly 2 million Twitter followers, for example. Entering into partnerships where you’re getting not only the cool factor, but a significant audience, is a surefire win/win.
  3. Manage the conversation. Alignment with celebrities and its sharable, fun and visually appealing content helped make it popular for members of its target audience to rave about Taco Bell online. The combination of these factors have helped it create engagement and positive conversations about its product, something countless brands have struggled to figure out. Take McDonalds, for example, who launched a misguided hashtag campaign called #McDStories in 2012. McHaters hijacked the hashtag to post horror stories about the brand, resulting in a major hit to McDonalds’ online presence. The lesson here? Don’t give your haters a platform to diss on your brand.

Alright, I’ve built up quite an appetite with all this talk about Taco Bell. See you at the drive-thru.


Thanks for visiting Consumer PR Play-By-Play!

On this blog, I’ll play armchair quarterback, commenting on the communication successes and failures brands make. But before I get started, It’d be rude not to share a bit about who I am and what I do.

My name is Austin Lacter. I’m a senior at the University of Oregon studying public relations in the nationally renowned School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC). In June, I’ll graduate from the j-school and enter the wide world of public relations.

Apart from my work as a student, I’m also the Firm Director at Allen Hall Public Relations, the University of Oregon’s student-run firm. In this role, I oversee 60 student account account executives as they plan, implement and execute real campaigns for 14 client accounts.

But wait… there’s more! I’m also the SOJC’s social media coordinator, where I manage the school’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. I also perform typical PR-related tasks (e.g. content curation, press release wizardry, and the like) in this role, reporting directly to the director of communication.

I’ve always had an interest in consumer technology, evidenced by the fact that my first stop on is always the tech section. I’m also an avid sports fan, following everything from English Premier League soccer, to my beloved Blazers, Niners, and of course the Mighty Oregon Ducks. I’m currently on the hunt for work as a communicator in either one of these industries.

Thanks again for visiting! Check back soon for post #2.