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Subaru seeks loyal fans in Asian-American community

Subaru of America is conducting an integrated marketing campaign targeting Asian-American consumers. The “Sweet Tomorrow” effort is promoting the company’s Legacy model through online, TV, print and out-of-home components. The automaker developed the campaign with AdAsia Communications, its Asian-American AOR. 0502SM_Subaru-300x135

Alan Bethke, director of marketing communication at Subaru, said the company is targeting “specifically the Chinese culture” to capitalize on its existing “strong connection” with the demographic.

Subaru’s move is a challenge to rival, Toyota, which is among the half dozen largest marketers targeting Asian-American DMA in the U.S. Most of the leaders in that field are insurance/financial services firms such as State Farm, Farmers Insurance, MetLife, Wells Fargo, New York Life and Allstate. Lowe’s McDonald’s and JCPenney are among the leading product retailers.

J.J. Nelson, writing for the Vertical Marketing Network, argues that brands shouldfocus on similarities without bending to stereotypes when 0502SM_Subaru3-300x199 reaching out to Asian-Americans.

“The Asian-American population has been growing,” he said. “There are about 15 million people of Asian-American descent, roughly, in the US, and Chinese-Americans are about 23% of that number.”

Bethke said Subaru is targeting Chinese-Americans in particular because the demographic represents the largest group of Asian-American Subaru owners. The campaign is also focused on consumers in their early-to-late 30s who are likely young parents and car shopping with their children in mind.

In addition to a billboard in San Francisco’s Chinatown district, the campaign includes a TV ad, produced by video production company Park Productions, which is running on Subaru’s Chinese-language site and its YouTube channel. The company is also running print ads in Cantonese and Mandarin in Los Angeles- and San Francisco-based publications, because of their heavy concentration of Asian-Americans, said Bethke.

AdAsia Communications is a full-service advertising agency headquartered in New York City. With 60 employees, and roughly doubling in size the last two years, it is listed #2 among Ad Age’s top U.S. Asian advertising agencies. In addition to Subaru, its clients include Verizon Telecom and Wireless, PNC Bank and Shiseido Cosmetics.

With just over 14 million people0502SM_Subaru2-300x135, Asians/Asian-Americans comprise approximately 4.5 percent of the U.S. population, but is growing rapidly – and is notable for its diversity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it is composed of 24 nationalities and/or ethnic groups, who speak as many as 56 languages.

Advertising Age recently cited the Asian community as a potentially powerful market: “Asian-Americans do assert their own mark on a wide variety of market drivers, including food, technology, music, dance, fashion, politics, social media and more.” Asian/Asian-Americans exert well over a half-trillion dollars in annual consumer spending.


Photos: Subaru / d’n’c’ photostream
Sallie Burnett
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