It’s easy to understand how a commercial like this gets made. Funny people miss the mark occasionally. What’s more difficult to explain is the decision to build an entire marketing campaign around such weak middle school humor. Are the executives at Subaru the same people who decided to buy the slapchop after Vince threw in the gratie, or did this actually test well thanks to Billy Mays nostalgia? If educated,experienced auto executives can be sold on this idea what hope do the rest of us have? Sebrings and WNBA tickets for all?
It would be one thing if this ad were pure escapism, alá the Bud Lite “tailgate tested” faux-infomercials. However the motivation for the Outback Detergent ads hide an underlying reality that Subaru is desperate to conceal. Outback was always “the original sport utility wagon.” Now it’s “just another crossover.” Having bloated the vehicle’s traditional tagline into irrelevance, Subaru has to find someway to connect to its past. You can almost see the discussion in the “creative” session: “I know, Subaru ads always show the cars getting dirty,” says one dim bulb. “Let’s do a whole campaign about dirt,” guffaws another. Too bad making a gimmick of a traditional brand image only seems to underline the co-optation of Subaru into the crossover mainstream. As it did in days gone by, Subaru should have simply looked to Australia to sell the new Outback. Then again, the competition is a little better down under.