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Cause Marketing Saves Subaru Money and Generates $5 million for 5 Charities

Subaru of America is running third annual end-of-year cause marketing campaign called ‘Share the Love,’ which has helped the brand grow through the recession, increase its market share and decrease its incentive costs, all while generating substantial donations to five respected charities.

The campaign is wonderfully simple. Buy or lease a new Subaru before Jan 3, 2011 and Suburu will donate $250 up to $5 million total to the ASPCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and the Ocean Conservancy.

The owner/leaser determines which charity gets the money. Subaru even allows you to split the money between the charities in percentages you decide. In the event certain new owners don’t express a preference the $250 is donated equally among all five charities. In campaigns like this that benefit multiple charities, I've often advocated the ability to split the donation.

Subaru also gets kudos on its website for pointing people to ways they can help the five charities in addition to buying or leasing a new Subaru.

In the wake of the first successful Share the Love campaign in December 2008, Tim Mahoney, SVP and chief marketing officer of Subaru told the 2009 Chicago Auto Show that the campaign actually saved Subaru money.

“We funded this out of our incentive budget,” Mahoney said. “Our incentive costs actually went down in December (2008), year over year. So it was a way of taking the resources we have and spreading them to organizations that could use it. And at the end of the day we raised a lot of money. A lot of money. Which makes me very happy and proud to be associated with it.”

That first effort generated $4.6 million for ASPCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, and the National Wildlife Foundation. The National Wildlife Foundation was subsequently replaced by the Ocean Conservancy.

Subaru has now donated close to $10 million.

While car sales have been growing in 2010. In 2008 industry saw declines of 18% and Subaru was the only full-line brand to actually grow, Mahoney told the Chicago Auto Show. Thanks in part to that first Share the Love event in 2008, Subaru’s market share approached 2%, their highest level ever and the brand surpassed Buick, Cadillac and Volvo in sales.

The ads in 2008 were derived directly from the kinds of bumper stickers that Subaru owners display. The 2010 ads are a couple of steps away from that, but you can still see the connections. They both say that Subaru owners care.

This is a strong campaign from Subaru that is appropriate, well-wrought, and is plainly working for the company and the charities. Bravo Subaru of America!

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