It’s goat versus G.O.O.A.T in Subaru’s new Outback campaign

Who: Subaru Canada, Zulu Alpha Kilo, Agence Rinaldi (French-language creative), Spy Films (production), Alter Ego (compositor/online) Eggplant Music & Sound and OMD (media).

What: A national campaign promoting Subaru’s 2020 Outback that references the famous acronym G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). Subaru contends that the latest edition of its flagship vehicle is the Greatest Outback Of All Time, or G.O.O.A.T.

It is Zulu Alpha Kilo’s first major integrated campaign for Subaru since winning the account earlier this year.

When & Where: The campaign broke with a social media teaser campaign, while follow-up elements will include TV, digital video, out-of-home, print and social.

Why: Subaru wanted to be more “disruptive and talk-worthy” with its marketing for the Outback, said Ted Lalka, vice-president of marketing and product management for Subaru Canada.

The Outback is one of Subaru’s key brands. The automaker’s SUV lineup—which also includes the Crosstrek, Forester and the new Ascent—accounted for more than three-quarters of its 58,070 sales in Canada last year.

How: The creative humorously pits Subaru’s G.O.O.A.T against an actual goat. The goat is sure-footed and nimble when it goes up and down mountains, but the Outback has 220 millimetres of ground clearance and symmetrical full-time all-wheel drive with X-mode. More than 98% of Outbacks are still on the road after 10 years, while 10 year old goats like a good nap. The Outback’s re-imagined interior has ample seating and generous cargo space, the goat has four stomachs. And so on…

Zulu Alpha Kilo’s founder and chief creative officer Zak Mroueh said that the creative team (art directors Michael Siegers and Alem Duranovic
; writers Jonah Flynn and Jackson Kemp
, along with CDs Susie Lee and Jonathan Smith) shared the G.O.O.A.T. idea with CDs last, cautioning, “This one’s crazy. You’re probably not going to like it.”

“We all loved it immediately,” says Mroueh. “Our partners at Subaru saw its potential right away as well. From there we literally had hundreds of ideas that we explored to bring the campaign to life.”

The ads were filmed in the mountains just outside of Vancouver, with the crew seeing (from a safe distance) bears, cougars and a landslide.

Did you know: We’re big trivia nerds at The Message, and this campaign got us wondering: Just when did G.O.A.T go from being a derisive term for someone who cost their team the big game to an expression connoting greatness?

According to a 2017 report by USA Today, the earliest recorded use of G.O.A.T in that context was in 1992, when Muhammad Ali’s wife Lonnie incorporated Greatest Of All Time Inc. to consolidate her husband’s intellectual properties for commercial purposes.

It wasn’t until 2000 that the term really entered the public consciousness, however, with the release of the L.L. Cool J song “G.O.A.T.” which is the moment it was first used as an acronym.

And we quote: “We figured a cheeky showdown between a Subaru Outback and a mountain goat would be a great way to get the attention of our target.” — Zak Mroueh, founder and chief creative officer, Zulu Alpha Kilo.


Chris Powell