Dog Rescue at the Detroit Auto Show

A Novel Exhibit at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show

I try to visit the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) aka the Detroit Auto Show every year, and this year I made it down on Tuesday of the public week.  As usual, my focus was on vehicles with dog hauling potential, whether they were small, like the Honda Fit, medium size like the Buick Regal TourX, minivans like the Chrysler Pacifica or big vans like the Ram Promaster.  I’m looking for flat load floor, no liftover at the rear hatch/door, and easy conversion from passenger to cargo modes.  A wide interior package without intrusions from wheel wheels or custom item holders is also a plus.  In other words, maxium carrying capacity with minimum effort to get stuff in and out of that space.  The Honda Odyssey has a vacuum which is a really nice touch, especially if you sometimes transport straw for barn hunts!

Sign explaining Subaru adoption event hoursSubaru’s White Picket Fence

I noticed when I got to the Subaru display that there was a area with green carpet surrounded by a picket fence.  There were multiple banners proclaiming Subaru Loves Pets and a sign sporting the Michigan Humane Society Logo.  A small sign taped to the gate to the area said that there would be adoptions for animals through the Michigan Humane Society on the weekends.

Subaru Dealer Partnerships With Local RescuesSubaru Loves Dogs Banner

On the Subaru website there is a section around Subaru Loves Pets, which is one of the five pillars of the Subaru Love Promise. I saw references to local dealers working with local rescue agencies to  support adoption events, and this event fits that description. I learned Subaru also held an adoption event at the LA Auto show last fall using the same display partnering with Best Friends. Best Friends is a national organization, but one with a regional office and a large coalition of partner shelters in the LA area. There is also some pet merchandise on the brand website, but the focus is more about doing good for pets than pushing branded pet stuff.

Volvo is Also Getting Into the Auto Show Rescue Act

I discovered that Volvo has been doing something similar. The brand started promoting safe pet travel in 2018 and drew attention to this initiative with their adoption events in 2018 at both the Chicago and New York auto shows, both times partnering with local rescues.  Most of the Volvo dog accessories focus on safe containment of dogs within the car with custom-fit barriers and car harnesses.  Volvo mentions that it makes a donation to the Petfinder Foundation for every dog accessory sold.  Volvo is promoting safe pet travel as a support to its longstanding corporate safety promise.

Make Your Dog Marketing Consistent With Your Corporate Brand

I’ve been observing vehicle manufacturers promote their products with dogs for years.  What I like about what I see in these rescue-OEM pairings is that the message is tied into a brand promise that runs through all the brand’s marketing. In other words:

  • Subaru Loves = Subaru Loves Dogs
  • Volvos are Safe = Volvo wants your dog to be just as safe as your family

Love has a more obvious tie-in with rehoming dogs than safety does, but both are caring messages and I think an appropriate match to an adoption event. If you’re going to play the dog card, it should be obvious you mean it, and that the dog-centric part of your message isn’t just about selling branded collars and leads.

Cleo Parker



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