Dear Subaru: It's a bad idea to call your target audience a bunch of smelly loud bums

Subaru ad
Promo image Subaru Canada

Margaret Thatcher is reputed to have said "A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure." Imagine what all those failures in Canada thought when they picked up a Metro, the free paper usually absorbing slush on Canadian bus and subway floors. Last week it was wrapped in a Subaru ad, mocking them for their mode of transportation.

While you’re sitting on public transit, just imagine your commute in a new Subaru Impreza. No weird smells, no overhearing awful music, and nobody asking you for spare change. And with a ton of great features like excellent fuel efficiency.... heading into work will be a lot more exciting.

Now, it's been said that TreeHugger types have no sense of humor and prefer to torch cars, not drive them, which is why people are complaining about this ad instead of enjoying the joke. That's a sad stereotype; I still hug my Subaru for its 13 years of dependable service. But I do believe in truth in advertising, and have some quibbles with some of the free coupons they are giving out:

Subaru Canada/Screen capture

Really? With traffic congestion getting worse all over North America, I would think the Subie stuck in traffic would be just about the worst place I could imagine.

Subaru Canada/Screen capture

Really? 2.1 million people died in Asia last year thanks to air pollution from cars and trucks. Cars emitted over 900 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, contributing 15% of greenhouse gas emissions. That smells bad to me.

Subaru Canada/Screen capture

Really? Get a life, or an ipod. You see a lot more people illegally talking on their cell phones while driving than you do see people having unwanted conversations in the bus or subway. In fact, studies show that young people are ditching cars because they prefer to sit on a bus, where they can use their smart phone to interact, rather than behind the wheel where they can't.

Subaru Canada/Screen capture

Really? Let's ignore the squeegee kids and look at who else is asking you for money when you tool around in your Subie. Like oil and insurance and licences and parking and taxes to pay for the roads and highways and hospitals to deal with the 32,000 people killed and 2,300,000 injured in cars in the USA each year.

Given that Subaru owners are considered by many to be, according to one website, " treehugger, lefties, socialist, commie pinko's, pot smoking hippies, greenies, and PETA's", it seems odd that they would assume transit riders are smelly, unwashed bums. As Brad Aaron in StreetsBlog concludes:

Maybe a campaign based on the premise that your target audience is a bunch of losers is not the most winning strategy.

Tags: Advertising | Canada | Transportation