Ad Week

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

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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.

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