Subaru Story Arc
I believe that television commercials are an art form. Not all of them, of course. But consider, in sixty seconds or less, the best commercials hook viewers, present characters and deliver a complete story. They compete in an environment saturated with other ads attempting to do exactly the same thing.
Sometimes character blots out message. It took me at least a year to figure out more or less what the cute talking infant was trying to sell. Of course if you establish an iconic character like an insurance-selling lizard or money-managing opera singers, you can ring changes on a theme for an extended time.
Other times the story line works but the product gets buried. I enjoy the Dad is a doofus rescued by the smart wife or child plot. The only problem is, it is so clichéd that I find it hard to attend to whatever object or service is being flogged.
Still other times the volume rises and my interest sinks. I have been known to pay attention long enough to learn which project to boycott.
However, as a writer, when a commercial works I like to figure out why it works. Take the Subaru story arc, for example. It starts with the odometer turning to 200,000 miles and the voice-over saying, “A lot can happen in 200,000 miles.” Then the odometer spins backward. A family scene — Father, mother and baby. More miles disappear. A dating scene between the couple in the family scene. The odometer spins back to 15 miles and the woman rears ends the man in a new Subaru. No harm done they exchange phone numbers and flirt.
A quick hook, an interesting start close to the end of the action, and a story that shows but not tell with clarity and absolute efficiency. A Subaru story arc.