BOSTON, MA. (Feb 26, 2009)- When it comes to media relations, most car companies follow a time-tested public relations formula: test-drives with the likes of Car & Driver, Automobile, and Road and Track. And while positive reviews in the auto press are essential, this year Subaru of America is taking a road less traveled to reach the American consumer: the CBC Winter House, an innovative media relations program from Boston PR agency Cercone Brown & Co. (formerly CerconeBrownCurtis).
This January, Subaru of America, Inc. put top consumer journalists behind the wheel of their 2009 Tribeca and Forester models at the CBC Winter House, where journalists were given the opportunity to test products in a natural setting. No contrived media pitches – just the product in the environment for which it was intended; in Subaru’s case, real roads, a wintry setting, and drivers of all skill levels.
“This was a unique way for us to get consumer journalists into Subaru vehicles and see what our products are all about,” said Heather Ward, manager of corporate communications for Subaru of America, Inc. “Park City was a great setting for us to show off the go-anywhere capabilities of our vehicles. With standard all-wheel drive and the legendary Subaru boxer engine, the media got to see a different side of our vehicles – not only are they safe and durable, but they are also a lot of fun to drive.”
Media pros from top press outlets ranging from Men’s Health to Good Morning America stay in the Winter House in Park City, Utah for three-day sessions, and have the opportunity to taste, touch and drive innovative 2009 products. In many cases, these products have not been released to the public.
“I had the opportunity to try products I wouldn’t have seen for months and have fun while I was doing it,” said Natalie Gingerich, Prevention. “I previously breezed over brands I was unfamiliar with and the Winter House gave me an opportunity to see new brands, and test familiar brands in a new way. I have always thought of Subaru as an outdoor car company but they have upped the ante. Their new models are luxurious and it was great to test them in icy conditions to see what they’re capable of”.
This year, the media really had an opportunity to test product that has yet to hit the market place, from brand new Kettle Chips flavors to heated jackets from Mountain Hardwear and brand-new watch models from Timex. Participating in Winter House gives companies an opportunity to use the media as a focus group on product that is new, innovative and still in its preliminary stages. Additionally, companies like Kahtoola and Karhu use the Winter House forum to get their name out and test product currently on the market. The program has lead companies to look at media relations in a whole new way.
“The media that attend the CBC Winter House and Summer House collectively sway huge influence on the consumer trends in the US and abroad,” said Noelle Guerin, the architect behind the program for CBC. “Subaru created a powerful impression for journalists that typically don’t have the chance to report first-hand on the driving experience. It groups their new models within the realm of the most innovative and exciting products of any kind in 2009, not just new cars.”
Coming on the heels of a successful Winter House program, the Summer House, CBC’s sister program on Nantucket, has already signed on several companies. The Summer House kicks off on June 7. For more information on how to participate in Summer House or other experiential media relations programs please contact Noelle Guerin, firstname.lastname@example.org
Located in Boston, Massachusetts, CerconeBrown&Company (CBC) provides branding, advertising, public relations, promotions and social media services to companies in a range of industries. Founded in 2001, the company has worked with leading brands that include adidas, GMAC Insurance, Hasbro, Nantucket Nectars, Orvis, Cognos, Sperry Top-Sider, K2, The Timberland Company, Vibram and ZOOTS. For more information, visit www.cerconebrown.com.
About Subaru of America, Inc.
Subaru of America, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. of Japan. Headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., the company markets and distributes Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive vehicles, parts and accessories through a network of nearly 600 dealers across the United States. Subaru makes the best-selling All-Wheel Drive car sold in America based on R.L. Polk & Co. new vehicle retail registration statistics calendar year-end 2007. In addition, Subaru boasts the most fuel efficient line-up of all-wheel drive products sold in the market today based on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fuel economy standards. All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. For additional information visit www.subaru.com.