“Paybacks,” goes the old adage, “are a bitch.” Not always. Subaru’s “Share the Love” campaign seems to be paying off for everyone involved.
In December, the automaker unveiled a one-month program aimed at contributing $250 for every car the company sold to one of five major non-profit organizations. On Thursday, at the Chicago Auto Show, Subaru marketing chief Tim Mahoney announced that the program had generated a hefty $4.7 million for the charities.
“We know how difficult the economic times are, and non-profits are having a particularly hard time,” said Mahoney, explaining the logic behind the unusual program, which allowed buyers to direct which of the target organizations got their $250. “When you’re struggling, it’s hard to think about others.”
Whether “Share the Love” gets credit, or not, something clearly clicked for Subaru, which was the only automaker to post a sales gain, in December. Not bad, said Mahoney, noting that in the current environment, “Flat is the new up.” Subaru was the only maker to post a gain of all of 2008, as well, and its momentum continued into January, with an eight percent increase in sales.
The five charities to share in the payout are the ASPCA, the National Wildlife Federation, Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Meals on Wheels.
Subaru officials say there are no specific plans to repeat the “Share the Love” program, but acknowledge that the positive response has them considering a second effort.