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Describe Communication and Marketing Struggles of Subaru (Term Paper Sample)


in the term paper, a book on marketing was analyzed, and information therein used to answer several questions. the book titled; where suckers moon, details the marketing struggles of Subaru, a car company, in the nineties.


This term paper is about marketing and communications. The case of Subaru as highlighted in the book ‘Where suckers moon’ will be critically evaluated, and used as the basis for answering some of the questions asked in the term paper. What is more, a creative brief for Subaru at the time (the 80’s and the 90’s) will be presented. The brief will serve to show how I would have personally wanted the company to conduct the advertising process at the time. Lastly, the way Subaru went about their choice of a marketing agency will be compared to Volkswagen. All the stated will be done in an attempt to relate everything learnt in class with a real world case scenario; depicted in the book ‘Where suckers moon’.
Marketing and communications problems by Subaru in the early 90’s
Background of what was happening to the company in the early 90’s
To understand marketing and communication problems by Subaru, first an understanding of what was going on in the company is vital. In the beginning of the early 90’s the company was not manufacturing any car. Instead, the company was sourcing the cars from another Japanese manufacturer: Fuji. To that point, Subaru cars were famous for durability and efficiency. Consequently, this led the company to becoming one of the most profitable companies in America. However, from the early 80’s to the 90’s, the company was seeing a reduction in both revenue and sales volumes. What is more, the share prices were dropping at an alarming rate. The image of the company was also dwindling. All this was happening in the backdrop of stiff competition from Toyota, Honda and other rivals.
Actual marketing and communication problems
The image of the company was deteriorating despite the good quality of their cars. Hence, the mantra by managers of the company at the time “the car is bullet proof only the image has holes.” The company at the time, just like many other car corporations, did not have in-house advertising capabilities (Rothenberg, 1995). Therefore, they had to rely on agencies for their advertising needs. The agencies were not that good in some instances. In the case of Subaru, the advertising agency they used was Levine Huntley (Rothenberg, 1995). The agency had lost credibility among the major dealers of Subaru cars, and general car representatives at the time. Additionally, a solo campaign by the agency to revive the company had failed miserably. In summation, the agency had totally failed in reviving the image of the company, which was deteriorating at an alarming rate at the time. Lastly, the main manufactures of Subaru cars: Fuji, had decided to assume a larger stake at the company. This led to managerial changes that placed demands to change the advertising agencies used by the company. This instability was not good for the company.
Were all the stated problems created by the agency?
The answer to this question is very debatable. One can very easily argue that that indeed the problems of the company were created by the agency. On the other hand, it is possible to argue that the problems were caused by the agency. An exploration of both arguments follows.
Arguments in favor of the problem being caused by the agency
The agency at that time had specialized on adverts that were funny and cinematic. With respect to adverts, they made for Subaru; the agency focus was on passing information on the economic nature of Subaru cars, and the reliability of its transmission system in maneuvering tough terrains (Rothenberg, 1995). The slogan used by the agency at the time was “inexpensive and built to stay that way.” Clearly, the advertising strategy used by the agency was not the best for Subaru at the time. Subaru was in need for creative adverts that would appeal to the highly emotional and irrational consumer at the time. What the advertising managers of the company were looking for in a good advert is evidence enough for the before stated. Another evidence to prove that the agency was causing the problems; is the fact that the agency did not come up with any new adverts despite the knowledge of the dwindling image of the company (Rothenberg, 1995). A final proof of the advertising agencies liability for the problem; can be seen when the agency was given a chance to redeem the company. The agency came up with a new strategy based on Subaru’s current drivers and potential ones too. They even coined a new slogan based on their marketing insights. Despite all this, the new solo campaign by the agency failed miserably (Rothenberg, 1995).
Arguments against the notion of the problem was caused by the agency
Arguments in this direction take the presumption that the company was facing tough times that had nothing to do with the advertising agency it hired. The company faced a reduction in sales from 183,242 to 177,000 in one year (Rothenberg, 1995). Profits dropped from a whooping 94 million dollars to just 34 million dollars. At first, the managers of the company thought that this was because the company lacked a compact car that could compete with popular brands at the time. Consequently, the ‘Subaru legacy’ was launched but the strategy failed. Styling, misdirection of investments and the poor performance of the Yen were blamed for this failure. Eventually, the mangers agreed that the image of the company was to blame for the poor performance of the company. The fact that other reasons were floated prior to this conclusion; is evidence of the possibility of other factors having an effect on the problems, and not just the advertising agency.
Why did Subaru choose Wieden and Kennedy?
According to Subaru, the company was the best advertising shop by the time Subaru were concluding their review (Rothenberg, 1995). The company hired a player good at both football and baseball for their campaigns. He championed the slogan “bo knows” which become famous and consequently a schoolyard anthem. Moreover, the company hired a black film director who took the task of directing their adverts. This worked well with multiracial audiences. Additionally, The Company was famous for taking advantage of popular culture stars before they become famous and started resonati...
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