How Subaru could'a made a great ad even better

Subaru's great 'tree hugger' spot walks a very fine line, by making fun of the brand's status amongst tree huggers. The reason I like the spot is that presents a funny, loving portrayal of the aging hippie grandmother.

Sure, she's a caricature, and she's prone to saying and doing things that make her son roll his eyes, and which occasionally shock her prim daughter-in-law. But the little girl is enthralled, and looks at her worshipfully. On balance, it's a positive portrayal and one that's refreshingly different than the saccharine 'grandma' characters we usually see.

Clearly, the spot's aimed at Millennials, like the driver and his wife. But the 'Woodstock' sign's another little nod to Baby Boomers and Seniors, for whom that word will always be evocative. Subaru's agency, Carmichael-Lynch, did a great job creating a spot that sells the Outback to the prime target demo, which will also work well on buyers in the key 55-64 cohort, too.

At first, the line about "I was naked zip-lining…" stood out for me, because zip-lining wasn't a thing when grandma was young. But the more I think about it, the more I like the idea that maybe grannie was naked zip-lining just in the last few years. Why not? So, I'd leave that line as-is.

But there is one tiny change that could move this ad from a solid A- on the BrandROI scale to an A+.

If it was up to me, I'd give the grandmother one line in which she looks around the car and asks, "What model did you say this was?" or something to convey her thought that she just might buy one for herself. After all, I guarantee you that as many (if not more) new Outbacks are sold to 55-64 year-old buyers than to young parents. 

If Subaru and C-L had brought Revolutionary Old Idea into the process, it would have been easy to cut a second version of the spot specifically for older audiences—in which grandma is acknowledged as a potential driver, not just a passenger. That version could run at low cost in the (many!) TV shows that skew older than 55.