Hometown Subaru Takes Leap as Local Bridge Day Sponsor | Edmunds

Hometown Subaru Takes Leap as Local Bridge Day Sponsor

Just the Facts:
  • Hometown Subaru of tiny Mount Hope, West Virginia, sponsors a bridge-jumping event that's an extreme-sports classic in the area, drawing 80,000 or more spectators every year.
  • The Bridge Day sponsorship, shared with Subaru of America, lets the dealer bring its Subaru vehicle lineup to the event, where dealership product specialists extol their virtues to an interested crowd.
  • This one-day event has repercussions all year, General Manager Joe Atkins told Edmunds, because the informal setting gives them a new way to get the attention of "people who maybe never thought about a Subaru."

MOUNT HOPE, West Virginia Hometown Subaru may be headquartered in a tiny town (population 1,400), but it reaches a brilliantly targeted demographic of more than 80,000 people once a year at the local Official Bridge Day.

On Saturday, October 18, outdoors and extreme-sports fans will again gather to watch people stage daring jumps off the tall span, most using a parachute in a technique called BASE jumping.

The bridge sits 876 feet above the scenic New River Gorge. It opened in 1977 and it only took a couple of years for people to figure out it would be fun to jump off. That's when Official Bridge Day was started — and it's now celebrating its 35th anniversary. Hometown Subaru has been presenting sponsor for five years, General Manager Joe Atkins told Edmunds.

"It's a good place to build some awareness of our brand and our dealership," Atkins said. "We have 150 to 200 feet of display, and a large portion of that is product. We try to run the gamut and bring one of every model line that Subaru has."

He said the Subaru WRX STI rally car from Vermont SportsCar is always a popular attraction as well.  

Hometown Subaru staffs its car display at the bridge event with product specialists, rather than salespeople. Their goal is to give information that will naturally build interest in the cars rather than run a sales pitch. Atkins said people appreciate "a little more informal setting than at the dealership. It's not necessarily a direct, immediate impact, but I know it does bring in a lot of new customers.

"I see people all year who say, 'Hey, I saw your cars at Bridge Day, and I really like the idea of what Subaru has.'"

The dealer also hands out brochures and small Subaru-branded trinkets. An important sponsor item is free water bottles with the Subaru and dealership logos, handed out to participants and spectators at shuttle stops. Hometown Subaru also provides shuttle cars to members of the Bridge Day Commission and to another sponsor, Red Bull, which drives the jump participants from the bottom of the bridge back up to the top "so they can get in as many jumps as they can."

Extreme-sports participants get from the top of bridge to the bottom by means that include parachute, or BASE jumps, as well as by a human catapult that launches the particularly daring. Teams can rappel from the bridge, and a skydiver jumps out of a plane — but no bungee jumping allowed, organizers warn.

As a warm-up to the big day, Hometown Subaru has a car show at the dealership, inviting "Subaru people" in, Atkins told Edmunds.

"We get 15 to 20 people throughout the state who bring their Subarus, and we run some contests like ugliest Subaru, oldest Subaru, the car with the most miles on it."

Hamburgers, hot dogs, drinks and prizes are attractions at the event, to be held on Saturday, October 11, this year.

Hometown Subaru is part of the Hometown Automotive Group, which also includes Hometown Kia in Mount Hope, West Virginia, and Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru dealerships in nearby Beckley, West Virginia.

Edmunds says: Love makes a Subaru a Subaru, they say — and love of outdoor adventure makes a good Subaru sponsorship opportunity.

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