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June 13, 2006

Subaru Taking The Gloves Off

David Kiley

I was perusing Car & Driver on the plane and was stopped by an ad for the Subaru WRX STI, a helluva cool car to drive.

The headline: When you go 0-60 in 4.5 seconds, you don't need a made-up character called Fast. It's what makes Subaru a Subaru."

The reference to a character called Fast, for those who missed it, is the creative device Volkswagen ad agency Crispin, Porter + Bogusky came up with to launch WRX rival GTI a few months ago. The Fast is a small toy that loosely resembles a rabbit trick-or-treating as Darth Vader. In some TV ads, the Fast acts as an inner voice of the driving enthusiast. The Fast speaks to the GTI driver on a wavelength only he can hear, telling him, for example, to drive for the pizza instead of taking delivery or to keep the windows down despite his wind-blown girlfriend's protests.

What I find a bit comical about this ad by Subaru is that the shot of the WRX shows the car in a really ugly color and sporting a ridiculously over-the-top rear spoiler, just the sort of rice rocket the GTI pokes fun at in another aspect of the campaign. The Subaru ad mocks a rival's attempt, successful in my estimation, to be fun and creative in its communication. Subaru and ad agency DDB ought to try it some time.

03:27 PM

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Frankly, you just don't get the whole point of Subaru showing their top of the line "sports car" in the factory WRC (World Rally Championship) race color. The "ridiculously over-the-top rear spoiler" is a bit much for Joe public but that's why you can remove it with a small set of tools. As far as mocking VW's "successful ad" goes well, as a current owner of a VW I can tell you that I think Subaru's ad is witty and fun. "The Fast" is a silly childs toy that you only get if you BUY a new GTI. I currently own a VW and I can tell you that I will never buy another one. Way to go Subaru for going after the enthusiast market and comming up with a great ad. Nothing like a little poking fun at a car that is in no way a threat to you performance wise. And Mr. Kiley you should do a bit of reseach before you comment...maybe then you would have known that the "really ugly color and sporting a ridiculously over-the-top rear spoiler" had a history and a reason in the ad.

Eric B.

Posted by: Eric B. at June 14, 2006 09:17 AM

Typical ad-man shallowness . . .

The Subie ad points out that the VeeDub's a boulevard poser and not a competition-proven "player" (wherein such things like a "ridiculously over-the-top rear spoiler" are a functional design element).

Although the GTI ads cleverly "mock" the youth "tuner" scene, which often involves adding competition-styled fashion accessories to rather pedestrian FWD imports, they simply beg for makers of legitimate homologated high performance vehicles to point out the VeeDub's apparent "sizzle without much steak." After all, the proof of "fast" is in the timeslips, not in the "fun and creative" hot air out of some paid liar on Madison Avenue.

Of course, most modern ad-men are all about creating "steakless sizzle . . . ."

Posted by: Dr511scj at June 15, 2006 10:17 AM

The funniest thing about this ad, is that they are marketing their $32,000 base price Subaru WRX STI, against the VW GTI which starts at $22,000. The two cars are in two different leagues. Had they shown their $23,000 WRX, they wouldn't have been able to brag about it being way faster, because it's not. Not only that, but comparing just about everything about the new GTI vs. the WRX TR (lowest base model), just about everything is a lot nicer made. So, thumbs down to Subaru for trying to trick the market into thinking a regular "WRX" would give you way more by comparing a $32,000 race car to a $22,000 non-race car

Posted by: Adam B. at June 20, 2006 09:40 PM

I think if the STI wants to show it's "dominance" maybe it should target a car in its market segement. Like for example, its prime competitor the evo, or at least a 350z.

It's like Porsche creating an ad featuring the new 911 turbo.

"When you go 0-62 in 3.7 seconds, you don't need historical ugly colors and ugly wings. It's what makes a Porsche a Porsche."

I think it makes subaru look like they're stooping down because they got butthurt over the whole unpimp your ride thing.

Posted by: Drew at July 6, 2006 08:07 PM

Agree with Adam and Drew, Subaru pitting its top of the line car against the STI is pretty absurd and that advertisement makes the company look foolish. It shows that Subaru has no idea who their real competitors are or who their target audience is. I have to admit it's kinda funny hearing Subaru fanboys go on about this. Subaru fanboys are such a sensitive lot with easily bruised egos. I know SO many STI owners who talk up the race heritage of their car... too bad their driving skills aren't equal to the car they drive. Time to grow up and play nice children. :-)

Posted by: Joe at January 22, 2007 01:50 AM


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