Fuji Heavy Industries, Likes to be Driven Hard


One of the few marketers to do its own research into the gay market, the car company found, lo and behold, that lesbians love Subarus! So it entered the market in May 1997 and remains one of the few major companies to target gay women.

The ad, a product shot of the Subaru Outback, features the headline, "Likes to be driven hard. And put away wet." The copy refers to both the car's ruggedness and a double entendre. This ad debuted in mainstream Vanity Fair but also is to run in gay titles such as The Advocate and Out.

Others in the campaign include the copy, "Makes your heart throb, your pulse race, and even takes you out to breakfast" -- echoing an earlier Subaru effort. In the third ad, a back-end shot of the Subaru Forrester is paired with copy that states, "Good manners. Great personality. And a rear that just won't quit."

"It's a subtle wink," Moon City creative director John Nash said to Adweek. "We know you get it. You don't need to put two women in it to make it a gay ad. If you get it, you get it. And if you don't, then it just explains a feature of the car."

The work was created with an eye towards placing the ads out-of-home in "pedestrian cities" like New York, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, Nash said.

"It could be very effective," Nash said. "You can target certain neighborhoods that have a large preponderance of the G-and-L community, but everyone is going to see them."

Separately, a few years back, Martina Navratilova was finally embraced by Subaru of America after the company spent several years courting the lesbian market.

The TV spot includes Martina among other female athletes with the "What Do I Know?" theme. The spot includes Golfers Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon and Olympic skier Diann Roffe-Steinrotter.

Each asks "what do I know" about performance, control, grip, etc. Martina gets the last word in, asking "What do we know? We're just girls."

Navratilova won more tournaments (167) than any other player in history, male or female, and yet most advertisers were fearful of being endorsed by an open lesbian. She did have brief appearances for Apple Computer and The New York Times.

Navratilova’s only regret is that it didn’t happen while she was still playing. “If I had been quiet about it, I would have had ads long before this,” she said. “It is a fact.” In an interview with The New York Times, she said, "All most other advertisers could see was the fact I'm a lesbian. Subaru doesn't care. They see me as everything I am."

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