Subaru shows real California wildfire footage in new cause marketing ad

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Subaru of America has launched a new ad to support its Subaru Loves the Earth initiative, the car maker announced today.
  • The spot, cut into 60- and 30-second clips, focuses on the record-setting wildfires that are destroying California’s different ecosystems every year, per the announcement. New creative uses real footage of wildfires captured by photojournalist Stuart Palley. His Subaru is seen in the shots, as he drove the car to report on the fire.
  • The effort aims to highlight Subaru’s partnership with the National Forest Foundation (NFF). Through the partnership, the car maker and its retailers will help restore lost forests by replanting 500,000 trees over the next four years.

Dive Insight:

Subaru is known for television tie-ins with its cars, but this latest effort has a heavier tone with a strong cause marketing angle. By showing the scary footage of a real photojournalist who visited the raging flames, the car maker is sending a message about the seriousness of California’s wildfires, likely resonating with viewers keyed into environmental issues. Instead of a product placement play like the brand did for the CBS show “Life in Pieces” last year, Subaru includes a shot of its car in action in a very real and serious setting. Many of the shots don’t feature the vehicle or any mention of Subaru.

The brand makes a strong point about the urgency and concern around wildfires, and showing how it is taking real action by restoring the lost forests rather than just playing off real life fears to grab viewers’ attention. This message supports the brand’s signature Subaru Loves the Earth initiative.

In February, it ran a campaign to promote the 2020 Outback with digital content integrations in National Geographic and BuzzFeed. For that campaign, Subaru created a three-part series featuring a choose-your-own-adventure style video quiz about National Parks with BuzzFeed. National Geographic displayed custom content about the Outback and how it facilitates outdoor adventures. The Outback was also part of a three-part mini-series on YouTube centered around science titled “SciShow.”

The latest effort continues the brand’s connection with National Parks and the outdoors, only in a more serious way to raise awareness around the ongoing challenges with California wildfires.

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