Subaru, Puppy Bowl Turning Super Bowl XLVII Sunday Into Dog Day Afternoon

By Barry Janoff

January 26, 2013: Dog tested. Dog approved.

Automaker Subaru has done its research and found that, next to people, dogs spend the most time in their cars. And their surveys show that Subaru owners are twice as likely to have a pet than are owners of other vehicles.

That information has helped to drive a canine-centric strategy in which Subaru has an alliance with the ASPCA, a "Dog Park Locator" on the company's Web site and other dog-lover-friendly-user activation.

Flash back four human years ago when Subaru launched a marketing campaign with the tag, "Dog tested. Dog approved." It coincided with the car company's signing on as a sponsor of Puppy Bowl, which Discovery Communication's Animal Planet started in 2005 as counter-programming to the Super Bowl.

Now, Subaru has unveiled a series of teaser spots, many starring "Grant Weber, Canine Sales Associate," whose cliental is exclusively canine. The four full commercials will break during Puppy Bowl IX on Feb. 3.

And forget those other marketers that will use one dog ads during Super Bowl XLVII. Subaru has a doggie crew of five: Kasey, Daisy, Paris, Penny and Stella.

Thirty-second spots on CBS during Super Bowl XLVII averaged $3.8 million, with some going for $4 million. Discovery/Animal Planet did not disclose the cost of a 30-second spot during Puppy Bowl.

Other Puppy Bowl sponsors include Geico, Pedigree, Despicable Me 2 (Universal), Bissell and Hershey's Icebreakers Mints.

In "Tailgate," there's plenty of room for cargo, canines and the treats (hot dogs, sausages, etc) that pups crave.

"Let's Talk Financing" opens with, "I'm Grant Weber and I sell Subaru's to dogs. Let's talk financing," he says to a potential doggie client.

"Lint Roller" reveals that Weber spends a lot of time using lint rollers to get dog hair off his sweater, chair and other items in his sales office.

In "On The Lot," Weber and a dog looking for a new car are on the sales lot. "You're n luck. I've got one blue one left," Weber says. But a cat is driving off the lot with the car, which leads both Weber and the dot to snarl.

You know that Subaru is serious about dogs: Each commercial that shows dogs and cats "driving" cars comes with the warning, "Dramatization. Professional driver on closed course. Do not attempt. ALways secure your pets."

The spots come with the promise, "Once you sit in a Subaru, you'll stay."

Subaru's lead agency is Minneapolis-based Carmichael Lynch.

In addition, Subaru is planning to release a series of Facebook applications targeting dog owners and their pets

Dog Matchmaker: With the aid of Weber, this app "will use a dog’s breed, weight and lifestyle to determine which Subaru model is the most suitable match."

•  Four-Paw Drivers Club: People can upload a pooch's photo to create a personalized dog driver’s license.

•  Ask a Dog: Subaru’s canine experts will answer your questions.

Put Your Dog in a Subaru: Upload a picture of your dog and Subaru will put them behind the wheel of a car, then take them on a virtual road trip.

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