I was walking around town yesterday when, while patiently waiting at an intersection, a Subaru Tribeca passed directly in front of me. Leave aside for a second that the Tribeca is one of the least attractive cars being sold in America today:
The Tribeca was covered with graffiti, presumably applied by the owner, that said “Subaru’s [sic] suck,” had a big picture of a lemon and included, on the other side of the car, additional anti-Subaru slogans that I couldn’t read but am sure were of the same level of discourse.
That’s not quite what “it’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru” is supposed to invoke.
At a certain point there are always going to be people who make purchases that they may end up regretting…and all the advertising in the world is going to struggle to convince people who have regrets and those that trust the opinion of the consumers with regrets that the brand in question is a good brand.
No amount of messaging tweaking or innovative media placement or outreach will really help, though those things may make it harder for people to be convinced that the brand is bad if the advertising is strong.
Take Apple, for example, which sold me a lemon of a MacBook (it has been serviced by Apple twice in three months and just crashed again this weekend, erasing my hard drive and, in a fit of pique, my external hard drive that I had connected when it crashed). Even as I write of this frustration, Mac users are happily considering me an anomaly.
Now imagine if the computer in question were a Dell.
Or I was talking about cars like I was before…and the brand was Toyota instead of Subaru.
My brother used to work summers at a Dodge dealership near our house and the running joke when that the clutch could actually fall out of a Toyota and consumers would think that it was just regular maintenance but if a Dodge needed an oil change consumers were bitching about what a crappy car Dodge was.
And that is the power of advertising.