If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

Still seeing positive results from the sponsorship strategy it has employed for the better part of a decade, Subaru of America, Inc. is adding to its extensive sponsorship portfolio and renewing many of its longtime partnerships.

Citing continued vehicle sales from its sponsorships of targeted properties that align with its customer base’s interests and occupations, Subaru earlier this year signed new partnerships with the Northwest Flower & Garden Show and the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. In addition, it is adding a concert series to its year-old partnership with the U.S. National Whitewater Center.

Subaru recently renewed its seven-year-old co-title of the Gary Fisher Mountain Bike team for another three years after generating 685 test drives and 45 sales so far this year.

“Our goal is to establish an emotional connection with our customers and potential customers through events that fuel their passions,” said Karen Allen, Subaru’s director of sponsorships, events and services. “Sponsorship provides consumers the opportunity to interact with our brand in a way that is impossible with mass media.”

The company structures many of its deals to incent vehicle sales, a strategy that has paid off in many cases. For example, Subaru credits its longstanding partnerships with the National Ski Patrol and Professional Ski Instructors of America with generating a total of more than 3,300 sales.

Subaru typically includes pay-for-performance elements in its contracts with the many membership organizations it sponsors. The associations receive a payment for each vehicle sold to one of their members, Allen noted.

Subaru gives each organization a special offer to promote to members. “We use the National Ski Patrol and the PSIA as the model for how we want to work a program,” said Allen, noting that the two organizations promote the offer through multiple communications efforts to their more than 60,000 members.

In addition to direct sales, Subaru uses sponsorship to raise awareness of specific models and reward current customers.

For example, the new garden show deals promoted the redesigned Forrester, a vehicle whose owners rate gardening high on their list of favorite activities. Subaru also sponsors the Philadelphia Flower & Garden Show.

Activation efforts included promotions to incent test drives and vehicle purchases. At February’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show, Subaru offered autographed copies of Inspired, a book by Jamie Durie, host of the Subaru-sponsored PBS program Victory Garden. Consumers could receive the book–as well as the offer of $500 off the purchase or lease price of a new Subaru–only after taking a test drive at a local dealership.

To retain existing customers, Subaru frequently offers event tickets and other perks to owners.

Subaru’s other ties include title of the U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Skiercross series and cosponsorship of the East Coast Canoe & Kayak Festival. Sponsored membership organizations include the American Speech-Language-Hearing Assn. and the Geological Society of America. A complete list of Subaru partnerships is available at Subaru.com/OutdoorLife.

How Sponsorship Works At Subaru
Allen oversees Subaru’s national and regional sponsorships and promotions, as well as auto shows and other trade events. Todd Lawrence, sponsorship and promotions manager, helps review opportunities.

Properties can mail proposals to Subaru’s promotions department at the company’s Cherry Hill, N.J. headquarters. Allen asks that proposals contain complete information, including the sponsorship package, price, and any other pertinent facts.

“Many times properties try to tease you, not give all the information and want to set up a meeting,” she said. “I ignore proposals that don’t give me all the information. Give me the details; if I’m interested, I’ll call you.”

Subaru’s five regional offices also have discretionary budgets for sponsorship. Those offices are located in Aurora, Colo. (Southwest); Austell, Ga. (South Central); Itasca, Ill. (Great Lakes); Portland, Ore. (Northwest); and Westhampton, N.J. (MidAtlantic).

The company also has opened zone offices over the past 18 months in Dallas and Los Angeles to build its presence in markets that have opened up due to the popularity of Subaru’s WRX performance vehicle.

“Historically, Subaru has not done well in the Sunbelt,” Allen said. “The WRX has changed things, and we’re putting more focus on Texas, Florida and Los Angeles.”

The company has largely focused on motorsports-related events to build visibility in those markets, she said. “We’re always looking for sponsorships, but unfortunately we’re budget challenged,” said Allen, adding that Subaru plans to renew its top-level partnership with the Summer X Games.