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 company's print ads have expanded over the years to feature Subaru models sporting license plates with phrases like "XENA LVR," a play on the popularity among lesbians of the show "Xena, Warrior Princess," and "P-TOWN," a reference to Provincetown, the popular tourist destination for lesbians and gay men. The ads were also featured on billboards around the country.
Long snubbed by advertisers that would have otherwise seized the tennis star at her height of stardom, 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."