Subaru Highlights the Joys, Anxieties and Lifelong Memories of Owning a Forester

Carmichael Lynch captures different stages of ownership in 3 vignettes

Drivers explore, worry and get nostalgic in the automaker's newest ads. Subaru

Carmichael Lynch takes viewers on three very different rides in a series of short films touting Subaru’s 2019 Forester SUV. Directed with admirable verve by Smuggler’s Mark Molloy, these minute-long spots provide disparate glimpses into the lives of Forester owners.

The most ambitious entry features Twilight Zone-style imagery as parents imagine their teenagers in crashes that might have been prevented by the carmaker’s DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System:

So, we’ve got dreamlike scenes of cars in distress—one’s apparently just driven off a bridge, while another flipped over in the street. And yet, their young drivers sit serenely inside. They’re physically unscathed; one’s checking his phone, while the other gorges on French fries, as if the accidents precipitated by such behavior had yet to occur—or they’re simply too distracted to notice?

Indeed, these sequences really do play like the dark visions of a mom or dad imagining both the reason for crashes (distracted driving) and their immediate aftermaths. In parents’ worried minds, the timeline gets twisted—cause and effect merging into one grim nightmare.

Amazingly, the effects were achieved in camera, Brian Cavallucci, national advertising manager at Subaru of America, tells Adweek. “The actor in the car spinning upside down had about five minutes before all the blood would rush to his head and we’d have to let him out to recover.”

As for the vehicle poking out of the shallows, “the water level dropped from when we scouted, so we had to saw off part of the nose to make it look more lodged in a stream with some depth,” he says.

The surreal vibe continues in the next spot, as a family pet sheds doggie years while strolling through a decade of memories—represented by items carried at one time or another inside his owners’ Forester:

Aww, by the end he’s just a pup!

Clearly, this is not the same-old car-ad trope. Kudos to Subaru for unleashing a new approach. Still, some folks might find the reverse-chronology concept a tad tough to follow, and the parents’ imagination installment could also cause confusion on first viewing.

Cavallucci seems unfazed. “Consumers are smart and want us to allow them to figure things out,” he says, “and they appreciate when we do that. Overall, this is a story about fitting a lot of life, and a lot of stuff, into a car you can trust for a long time. And I think that consumers will understand that’s what this story is all about.”

The final ad in the series follows a young couple heeding the call of the road to escape the stresses of daily life:

Well, that pooch seems to be aging normally. And he finds a furry friend along the way.

While this ranks as the most conventional commercial of the bunch, it may also be the most satisfying, thanks to straightforward storytelling, winning performances and perky editing that keeps viewers engaged.

“The director wanted to have a real road trip, so the shoot was organized to be just that,” says Cavallucci. “The creative team worked up a lot of new gags to capture based on the scouting. Then, the whole production [team] took the trip, stopping for beats (memorable interactions with people and places) along the way. Sadly, the spitting-off-the-bridge segment didn’t make the cut.”


Client: Subaru of America
Senior Vice President of Marketing: Alan Bethke
National Advertising Manager: Brian Cavallucci
Advertising Production Specialist: Kirsten Anderson

Agency: Carmichael Lynch
Chief Creative Officer: Marty Senn
Executive Creative Director: Randy Hughes
Writer/Group Creative Director: Dean Buckhorn
Art Director/Creative Director: Brad Harrison
Senior Executive Content Producer: Brynn Hausmann
Director of Business Affairs: Vicki Oachs
Talent Payment Specialist: Jennifer Knutson
Account Management Team: Brad Williams, Adam Craw and Caroline Rudzinski
Product Information Specialist: Robert Ar
Senior Project Manager: Allison Sadeghi

Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Mark Molloy
Co-Founder: Brian Carmody
Co-Founder: Patrick Milling-Smith
Chief Operation Officer: Andrew Colon
Executive Producer: Sue Yeon Ahn
Producer: Jennifer Barrons
Director of Photography: Nicolas Karakatsanis
Canadian Production Service Company: FilmGroup
FilmGroup EP: Nathan Miles
FilmGroup Head of Production: Renee Poulin
FilmGroup Service Producer: Vanessa Lenarduzzi

Edit House: Work Editorial L.A.
Editor: Stewart Reeves
Assistant Editor: Josh Sasson
Executive Producer: Marlo Baird
Producer: Brandee Probasco
Telecine: MPC L.A.
Senior Colorist: Ricky Gausis
Color Producer: Rebecca Boorsma
VFX Studio: a52
VFX Supervisor: Urs Furrer
2-D VFX Artists: Steve Wolff, Richard Hirst, Adam Flynn, Kevin Stokes, James Buongiorno
Producer: Sarah S Laborde
Executive Producers: Patrick Nugent and Kim Christensen
Managing Directors: Jennifer Sofio Hall
Recording Studio: SisterBoss
Audio Mix: Carl White, SisterBoss
Sound Design: Carl White, SisterBoss
Post Audio Producer: Annie Sparrows, SisterBoss
Online: Sarah Thomas, Volt Studios
Post Producer: Amanda Tibbits, Volt Studios


“Parent’s Imagination”
Q Department

“For All You Love”
Artist: Fanfarlo
Track: “Good Morning Midnight”
Writers: Simon Aurell, Catherine Lucas
Music Supervisor: Jonathan Hecht, Venn Arts

“Call of the Road”
Artist: Vetiver
Track: “Amour Fou”
Writers: Andy Cabic, Devendra Banhart
Music Supervisor: Jonathan Hecht, Venn Arts

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@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.