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SOME importers of SUVs appear to be moving away from the off-road appeal of their wagons in a switch to highlighting their values as family transport.

The latest is Subaru Australia which is launching its new Forester range to families with a social media hashtag platform and advertisements embracing family living.

The second phase of its “Subaru do” marketing campaign – “Taking families under its wing” – has taken marketing priority over the on- and off-road capabilities of the all-new, yet visually similar, 2018 Forester.

This family-first targeting for an SUV manufacturer follows a move earlier this year in which Hyundai placed growing emphasis on going for family values in its latest large SUV, the Santa Fe, playing down much of the wagon’s off-road prowess.

Subaru’s new approach hopes to aim at the same urban family core in spite of the fact that a closer look shows the company has actually made the latest Forester even more dirt-capable than previous iterations.

In unveiling the new Forester in Australia last week, Subaru’s Japan-based project manager for the car, Katsuro Tadaki, said the thrust of the engineering and design was to continue the model’s status as a go-anywhere wagon.

“We had to add the ‘spirit of adventure’ to the car to confirm the ‘emotional values’ and carry this desire for owners to use the car to explore even further,” he said.

Mr Tadaki said this adventure-driven angle was notably missing in most of the Forester’s rivals and that he considered it a very important point of difference.

But in its new TV commercials that started this week, Subaru leaves the wagon’s capabilities aside and looks at how owners can capture moments with their family.

Subaru Australia general manager of marketing Amanda Leaney said “the new television commercial is about enjoying living in the moment. It’s a new way forward to build our connection with families”.

“This is Phase 2 of Subaru do,” she said.

“The target audience is progressive Australian families and these include those both coming into the brand and those who are existing Forester owners.”

The 15-second TVCs will run through September based around the “one little moment” theme and identified by a blue shoelace that Ms Leaney said becomes the reminder of the moments that are important to families.

“We have created a #onelittlemoment metadata tag that is inviting people to post their own moments,” she said.

“It takes the car and the ownership of the car to a new emotional level. We see that as cementing the Subaru brand as one that involves its owners and ties with the Subaru do message.”

Ms Leaney said that the new marketing is “definitely slanted to the younger family”.

“This is more so than before. But while it’s very important to young families, living in the moment is ageless.

“The first TVC is a 15-second ad during September, then there are four more TVCs that look at the Forester’s driver monitoring system, active safety, visibility and infotainment.

“They bring to life the intent the moment of every chance to ‘do’ and also showing the key benefit. They will write the Forester suite.”

To support the commercial, Subaru plans two more TVCs over the next 12 months.

“The ‘in the moment’ idea came about after working with our creative agency Disciple and media agency Starcom,” Ms Leaney said.

“It was born from a core consumer insight of ‘I want to be more fun’. It is an important message because it’s not ‘show me how to have fun’, it’s ‘I want to be more fun. Help me be more fun’.

“The campaign aims at ensuring it will be more enjoyable to buy a Subaru and our responsibility is to help you live magical moments everyday.

“It has grown beyond the tangible benefits of owning a Subaru but that’s just as important.

“We have a brand promise that has to be backed up by the product. It’s not one without the other. It’s an evolution of Subaru.”

Ms Leaney said the Forester had unbeatable fortitude since the nameplate was established in 1997.

“Every competitor has used the Forester as a benchmark,” she said.

“It has character and charm and holds the promise of going anywhere.”

Subaru will link that TVC with events such as its involvement with cycling and its sponsorships in programs at Perisher and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road race.

The Subaru do campaign for the new Forester may have changed but the background theme music stays with Lou Reed’s do-de-do-de-do riff from his 1972 “Walk on the Wild Side” single – a song that has an infectious tune but dark, risque lyrics.

By Neil Dowling