Subaru To Move $150 Million Account to Carmichael-Lynch

Subaru of America is expected to move its ad account to Carmichael-Lynch in the next 24 hours from DDB.

I’m thinking back to a blog post in this space dated last April in which I said this was going to happen. I got stern looks from a DDB executive I know, and a tsk tsk tsk from Subaru chief marketing executive Tim Mahoney.

Ad Age first reported the imminent shift this afternoon.

Subaru is a brand that has a hard time getting out of its own way. It has the best all-wheel-drive system in the business, and the cars are reliable and durable (I’ve owned three). But it has long been confused over styling and its marketing. Mahoney is DDB’s second client as the company tries to engineer a move from “reliable” to “premium.” These things happen.

Subaru sales are off 7% through September. And the current rollout of the new Impreza has been bumpy I’m told. A 10.5% increase in sales in September with a new model is nothing to write home about. But that is Subaru’s problem. It’s shsort on attention grabbing product design or marketing. It’s the tortise of the Japanese automakers, but it isn’t winning any races.

Carmichael-Lynch is winding up its work on Porsche, which is moving its account to a new agency. Mahoney was chief marketer at Porsche before Subaru and enjoyed a good relationship with C-L during his time there.

It’s possible DDB won’t be the loser in this. The other half of that blog post from last April was that DDB was favored to re-take the Volkswagen account in the U.S. Stefan Jacoby, new head of VW of America is searching for a new chief marketer, and there has been rumblings that VW’s German parent would like to consolidate its busineess at DDB, which has a lot of VW business abroad. The U.S. VW account is now handled by Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.