Subaru is placing its gay and lesbian advertising into the mainstream press this month by breaking the first of three new ads in the December Vanity Fair.
The December issue - which spotlights gay and lesbian broadcast and cable TV programming as its cover feature - offered the car maker a unique opportunity to appeal to its core audience while reaching out to a broader range of sophisticated, urban readers.
"The directive from Subaru has always been make it intelligent, make it thoughtful and make it appeal to that audience," said John Nash, creative director of Moon City Productions in New York. The shop has been working with Subaru to reach the gay and lesbian market since 1994, when the car maker first began its research into that market.
The ad, a product shot of the Subaru Outback, features the headline, "Likes to be driven hard. And put away wet." The copy is both a reference to the car's rugged nature and a sly double entendre.
"It's a subtle wink," Nash said. "We know you get it. You don't need to put two women in it to make it a gay ad. If you get it, you get it. And if you don't, then it just explains a feature of the car."
Another ad shows a front-end shot of the sporty WRX with the copy, "Makes your heart throb, your pulse race, and even takes you out to breakfast." In the third ad, a back-end shot of the Subaru Forrester is paired with copy that states, "Good manners. Great personality. And a rear that just won't quit."
While Nash noted it was not Subaru's initial foray into the mainstream, as a cinema-themed 2001 gay and lesbian campaign appeared in Movieline, he said this is the first time such work has appeared in a magazine with such a significant circulation.
Consumers in focus groups have said that seeing the ads in mainstream periodicals would mean more to them, said Nash.
"They want to see an ad that speaks to them in a general-market book, because that is what they read, and they feel such an effort shows more of a commitment to them," said Tim Bennet, Subaru's director of national marketing programs.
The ads will also appear in niche magazines such as The Advocate and Out, but more mainstream placements may be in Subaru's future. The media plan is still being developed, Nash said.
The work was created with an eye towards placing the ads out-of-home in "pedestrian cities" like New York, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, Nash said.
"It could be very effective," Nash said. "You can target certain neighborhoods that have a large preponderance of the G-and-L community, but everyone is going to see them."
Deanna Zammit, Adweek. November 10, 2003
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