If you’ve been watching the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which resumes tonight, you’ve probably seen this Subaru spot, called “Baby Driver.” In it, a distressed father leans into the passenger side window, imploring his preschool-age daughter to be careful on the road — stay off the freeways, put the phone away — to the point that she interrupts with a sweetly impatient “Daddy, o-kay.” When he gives up the keys, we see the child as a present-day teenager. As she backs out of the driveway, to the obligatory strains of an acoustic guitar, the word “love” pops up on the screen. It dissolves into the Subaru logo as dad’s voice intones: “We knew this day was coming. That’s why we bought a Subaru.”
From his body language and tone of voice, the way he watches helplessly as she drives away, you’d think his daughter was shipping out for Afghanistan. What the voice-over might as well have said was, “No one wants their kids to drive. We know it’s incredibly dangerous. So we bought a Subaru in hopes that our child won’t die.”
If you can get past the myth of driving as an unavoidable rite of passage, you have to hand it to Subaru on this one. Based on the YouTube comments, it’s pulling a lot of heartstrings. And the emphasis, at least, is on safety (albeit for those inside the Subaru). Contrast that with the current campaign from fellow March Madness sponsor Dodge, featuring commercials like the one after the jump. Given its celebration of sociopathic behavior — watch as the Charger plows heedlessly through urban crosswalks at “movie car chase” speeds — we wonder if the narration by Michael C. Hall, TV’s favorite serial killer, is more than coincidence.
It’s enough to keep a Subaru dad awake at night.