I was recently at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and when I visited, I was reminded that Subaru really knows its customers well. This reminder came when I walked by Subaru’s display which included, of course, some Subaru vehicles, but also … a kissing booth. With a dog.
In fact, Subaru had set up a white picket fence and a fake grass yard, to resemble a house’s yard — and there were even some dog toys scattered around. And then, right in the middle, was the dog kissing booth, with a wonderful little dog who seemed very eager to lick some people who were just as eager to get licked.
In the background, Subaru had an advertisement playing entitled "Meet the Barkleys," a play on the word "bark" and centered around dogs — with the screen lined with paw prints and dog bones. And, finally, to cap it all off, there was a sign on the white picket fence on the outside of the display, stating: "Subaru Loves Dogs."
This is a great example of how to market a brand like Subaru. Subaru makes excellent cars, of course, but they’re not just selling cars — they’re selling a lifestyle, appealing to young families with an affinity towards their pets. Few people don’t love dogs, and Subaru has positioned itself as the "dog loving brand," earning a second look from dog lovers who are swayed by its dog-heavy marketing.
I don’t think this is a gimmick, necessarily, but rather an excellent form of brand positioning — and a great understanding of Subaru’s customers, who were already dog lovers to begin with. Indeed, when you think of many car brands you think of those brands’ vehicles, and little else — but given Subaru’s heavy, dog-focused marketing, the automaker has become more than just the sum of its cars. And a dog kissing booth at an auto show — instead of cramming in one more car — is a great way to continue that marketing.