Rabbit Stops Subaru in its Tracks:
Car manufacturer gains unexpected insight into the plight of abandoned rabbits

On June 3, many rabbit caretakers got a very unpleasant surprise when they turned on their televisions. Subaru’s newly released commercial “Outside the Box” depicted a mom and schoolchild releasing a domestic rabbit into the woods. Here’s how Subaru’s press release described the commercial: “In “Outside the Box,” a Forester owner covertly picks her daughter up from school to help release the class bunny back into the wild where he belongs.” This description is a perfect example of a common misunderstanding concerning domestic rabbits, who are poorly adapted to surviving on their own out of doors.

The timing of the commercial’s introduction compounded the problem: early summer is typically “dump season–”a time when many parents who bought “Easter rabbits” for their children a few months earlier simply release these rabbits out of doors when warm weather approaches and the rabbits, now grown to adult size, are no longer “cute” to their children. Rabbit owners and and rescue organizations across the country jumped into action.

They flooded Subaru with letters, phone calls, and emails, expressing deep concern that the commercial glorified an act that was, in essence, animal abandonment. Fearing that viewers would emulate the behavior shown, they requested that the commercial, created by Dallas agency Temerlin McClain, be taken off the air immediately.

The response from Subaru was at first very disappointing. In a form letter sent to protesters, Mark Darling, Vice President of Marketing for Subaru of America, stated that “the rabbit featured in the commercial is a cottontail, which is commonly found in the wild. We intended that our mother and daughter’s actions in this spot be seen as admirable, as they are releasing a wild animal which was inappropriately caught and brought to school.” Rescue organizations objected to this characterization of the commercial, pointing out that it contradicted Subaru’s own press release, which described the rabbit as “the class bunny.” Further, the rabbit in question was light grey with a white nose and white paw — clearly a domestic breed, and probably a Dutch mix. They continued to urge Subaru to take the commercial off the air, before any further damage was done.

BACK TO INDEX (From 2003NYC Metro Rabbit News)


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