Car Time Is Family Time as Subaru Launches Its Largest Vehicle Yet

A fresh spin on ‘connected’ cars

Faithe Herman from This Is Us stars in new Subaru work. Subaru

Subaru drives home the notion of connectivity in these family-focused ads for the 2019 Ascent, the nameplate’s largest-ever vehicle.

But, rather than stressing internet access, the spots from Carmichael Lynch, directed with cinematic flair by Martin de Thurah, focus on interpersonal connections and the prominent role Subaru’s three-row SUV can play in people’s lives. In these stories, the Ascent provides a key space for living and propels passengers on journeys of discovery that bring them closer to one another.

“Dream Big” features parents who take a scenic road trip to reconnect with their teenage daughter and show her that the natural world has just as much to offer as images on a digital screen:

“During our consumer research, we heard that ’car time’ was some of the most valuable time spent together, according to big families,” Subaru of America national advertising manager Brian Cavallucci tells Adweek. “We wanted to showcase how that time together in a vehicle can be an opportunity for a better family life. So yes, the car has connectivity available from a technology standpoint, but the real benefit for big families is being together and having an opportunity to connect on a higher level.”

“A Big Day Out” expands on this theme, with three generations on a leisurely weekend outing and a sweet twist at the finish:

Yeah, that grandma and granddaughter are way closer than first meets the eye.

“Subtlety is always a goal for us, and it has worked very well in the past,” says Cavallucci, who isn’t concerned that the ad might be too tricky for its own good. “If we’re too ‘over the plate,’ people lose interest. But if we can pique their curiosity, audiences typically appreciate figuring it out themselves.”

Faithe Herman from This Is Us, plays the granddaughter with great humor and assurance.

“The shoot was filled with heartfelt moments, as she really understood her role,” Cavallucci says. “She nailed it.”

Finally, “Important Moments” veers in a more dramatic direction, focusing on the Ascent’s driver-assist feature through a harrowing near-death scenario as a young father’s life flashes before his eyes:

“The slow-motion moments during the accident were shot on a phantom camera at a super high speed,” Cavallucci recalls. “The actors would have to feign the gyrations of being in a severe braking event.”

Air cannons made their hair fly up to heighten the drama, which really did frighten the young actor playing the daughter. “Luckily, she bounced back and gave us some wonderful deliveries,” he says.

Each ad has its own distinct flavor, with veteran visual storyteller de Thurah deftly leveraging Subaru’s familiar “Love” positioning and conveying a range of feeling without swerving into treacly joy rides. “While this is our first time working with Martin, we’ve had our eye on him for quite some time,” Cavallucci says. “He knows emotion and how to evoke it, so he was perfect for this work.”

Of the three spots, “Dream Big” proved the most challenging owing to weather conditions on location in Marin County, California.

“The day we had to shoot the end scene, we had extremely thick fog, and the valley was completely white,” he says. “Our talent had to act to basically nothing, and our special effects team at The Mill really nailed the scene. There are layers of complexity within the vista that make it convincing, but we held our breath for a month on that one.”


Senior VP of Marketing: Alan Bethke
National Advertising Manager: Brian Cavallucci

Agency: Carmichael Lynch
Chief Creative Officer: Marty Senn
Executive Creative Director: Randy Hughes
Creative Director, Writer: Troy Longie
Senior Art Director: Chris Carlberg
Head of Integrated Production: Joe Grundhoefer
Sr. Exec Content Producer: Brynn Hausmann
Content Producer: Zachariah Zutler
Business Manager: Vicki Oachs
Managing Director: Brad Williams
Account Director: Adam Craw
Account Supervisor: Liz Jenkins
Director of Brand Planning: Brenna Smithson
Brand Strategist: Gabriela Trejo
Senior Project Manager: Meredith Paul

Production Company: Epoch
Director: Martin de Thurah
Executive Producer: Melissa Culligan
Head of Production: Megan Murphree
Producer: Stephanie Bruni

Post Production:
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
Editor: Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Assistant Editor: Alex H. Liu
Managing Director: Eve Kornblum
Producer: Lisa Barnable

VFX: The Mill, LA
Senior Producer: Anastasia von Rahl
Producer: Andrew Gilson
Production Coordinator: Ade Macalinao
Shoot Supervisor: John Shirley

Color: The Mill, NY
Colorist: Fergus McCall
Executive Producer: Dee Allen 
Senior Colour Producer: Rochelle Brown
Production Coordinator: Blake Rice

Online/Mastering: Volt Studios
Online Artist: Pete Olson
Executive Producer: Amanda Tibbits

Audio Mix: SisterBoss
Mix Engineers: Dan Kramer & Dan Jensen
Audio Producer: Annie Sparrows

Spot: “A Big Day Out”
Track Title: “Suitcase Full Of Sparks”
Music Supervisor: Jonathan Hecht

Spot: “Dream Big”
Music by: Walker Music
Executive Producers: Sara Matarazzo, Stephanie Pigott
Music Coordinator: Marissa Hernandez
Song Title: “Strong”
Performed by: Rob Simonsen 
Written by: Rob Simonsen 

Spot: “Important Moments”
Music and Sound Design by: Ballad
Executive Producer: Gregers Maersk Moeller
Composers: Philip Nicolai Flindt, Gregers Maersk Moeller, Adrian Aurelius Skovgaard Nielsen 

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.