Subaru folds to animal rights pressure


Mar 11, 2001
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Automaker Agrees to Alter TV Spot

June 10, 2002

By Jean Halliday

The Subaru rabbit in question.

In response to an angry outcry by animal rights groups across the country, Subaru will alter a TV commercial starring a bunny rabbit.

Animal activists charge that the Subaru TV spot, which shows a mother and daughter trying to do a good deed for a rabbit, actually depicts an inhumane act and should be pulled from the air.

A coalition of pro-rabbit groups including organizations such as the House Rabbit Society, and Michigan Rabbit Rescue are using the Internet to summon animal rights activists across the country to "mount an all-out campaign" urging Subaru to kill the commercial.

Spot to be changed

A Subaru spokesman, declining to say how many people complained, said the spot will be changed.

Created by Interpublic Group of Cos.' Temerlin McClain, Dallas, as a national ad for the Forester sport utility vehicle, the spot shows a mother and young daughter leaving a school and driving a boxed rabbit into a lush woodland area. After seeing a wild rabbit run across the road, the two stop the car and lovingly release their rabbit into the wild.

Animal rights groups claim the ad shows a domestic rabbit and that the release of such a domesticated animal into the wild is "a death sentence."

Reference materials from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warn that  
domesticated rabbits should not be released in the wild because they "lack the instincts to survive on their own and fall prey to predators, are susceptible to disease, or end up starving because there is no adequate food source."

Form letter sent out
In response to the animal rights' complaints, Subaru sent out electronic and hard-copy form letters from Vice President of Marketing Mark Darling. has obtained a copy of the letter, which says the spot, entitled "Outside the Box," aims to show the "admirable" release of a wild cottontail and in no way condones the release of domestic animals into the wild.

The letter goes on to say that Subaru wants to "clarify the unintended conclusion drawn from the commercial to avoid any such confusion in the future." The letter also states the marketer "has long been a friend of the environment and related causes" and is a financial supporter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The spot broke June 3, marking Subaru's return to national broadcast network TV for the first time since 1997. The new campaign, which is launching the redone 2003 Forester, introduces the brand's new umbrella tag "When you get it, you get it." The line refers to owners' unique approach to life as they go their own way using Subaru's all-wheel drive.

The marketer spent $121 million in measured media in 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.


Mar 28, 2001
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I saw this commercial today and was wondering if anyone would be raising a fuss over it.

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