When you think of Subaru cars, you might picture rugged vehicles ready to take on any outdoor adventure. However, for many people, Subaru has another connotation: being a "gay car brand." This stereotype has been around for decades and has gained traction in popular culture, especially among members of the LGBTQ+ community. But is there any truth to this stereotype, or is it just a marketing myth?
The Origins of the Stereotype
The origins of the Subaru stereotype are difficult to pinpoint, but some suggest it began in the late 1990s and early 2000s. During this time, Subaru was gaining popularity among lesbian and gay communities, especially in places like Portland and Seattle. According to a 2006 article in The New York Times, the car’s safety, practicality, and affordability made it an attractive option for these communities.
However, the article also noted that Subaru’s marketing campaigns played a role in cultivating relationships with the LGBTQ+ community. In the 1990s, Subaru was struggling financially and needed to reinvent its brand. The company found a new direction when it hired an advertising agency called Temerlin McClain. One of the agency’s executives, Tim Bennett, was gay, and he saw an opportunity to target the LGBTQ+ market.
Bennett’s team created ads that spoke directly to gay and lesbian consumers, featuring slogans like "Get Out. And Stay Out." and "It’s Not A Choice. It’s The Way We’re Built." The ads didn’t mention Subaru explicitly, but they included images of the company’s cars and created an association between the cars and the LGBTQ+ community.
Factors Behind the Stereotype
Marketing campaigns aside, there are other factors that have contributed to the Subaru stereotype. One of them is the design of the cars themselves. Subaru has a reputation for building practical, boxy cars that can handle snow, mud, or any other terrain. These attributes appeal to outdoorsy people, many of whom are members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Another factor is Subaru’s association with outdoor activities. The company sponsors events like the Subaru Ironman triathlon, the Subaru Outside Games, and the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. These events attract a wide range of participants, but they also contribute to the stereotype that Subaru is a car for adventurous, outdoorsy people – including those who identify as LGBTQ+.
Backlash Against the Stereotype
Despite Subaru’s popularity among some members of the LGBTQ+ community, the stereotype that the brand is "gay" has generated some backlash. In 2006, for example, an article in Slate magazine criticized the stereotype as a form of tokenism that oversimplifies the diversity of LGBTQ+ identity. The article argued that Subaru’s marketing campaigns exploited the LGBTQ+ community’s economic power without acknowledging the complexity of its members’ lives.
Subaru has responded to the backlash by distancing itself from the stereotype. A spokesperson for the company told NPR in 2015 that Subaru was "not in a position to make a comment on the validity of the perception of the brand in the LGBTQ community." The spokesperson added that the company had an "open-minded approach" and celebrated diversity.
So, is Subaru a gay car brand or just a marketing myth? The answer seems to be a bit of both. While Subaru’s marketing campaigns did cultivate relationships with the LGBTQ+ community and contribute to the stereotype, the brand’s practicality, affordability, and association with outdoor activities have also made it attractive to many people – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the end, it’s important to remember that stereotypes are just that – oversimplified, often inaccurate perceptions of groups of people. While it’s okay to appreciate Subaru for its safety, reliability, and adventurous spirit, let’s also acknowledge the diversity of identities within and beyond the LGBTQ+ community.
Q: Is Subaru a car brand for LGBTQ+ people only?
A: No, Subaru cars are practical and suitable for anyone who needs a reliable vehicle.
Q: Are there any other car brands marketed towards the LGBTQ+ community?
A: Yes, some car brands have created marketing campaigns aimed at LGBTQ+ consumers, including Volvo, Audi, and Fiat.
Q: Has Subaru responded to the criticism of its marketing campaigns?
A: Yes, Subaru has distanced itself from the stereotype and celebrates diversity in its marketing campaigns.
Q: Do all members of the LGBTQ+ community like Subaru cars?
A: No, like any other group, the LGBTQ+ community is diverse, and individuals have their own preferences when it comes to cars.