What If Don Draper Worked for Brands Today?
Before I get into a regrettable exercise that probably should’ve stayed trapped inside my head, if you haven’t seen the spectacularly batsh*t cinematic Subway ad that went viral yesterday, go ahead and do that. Otherwise, you’re going to be even more disturbed by what’s about to happen here.
got another capitalism greatest hit. i will give you one hundred thousand dollars if you can guess the brand by the end pic.twitter.com/bwfJJLabg4— Ryan Simmons (@rysimmons) June 27, 2019
As Jodi reported, this Subway ad is very real. Granted, it’s three years old, but considering it racked up over two million views within hours, let’s not pretend that it won’t be relentlessly imitated until every single fast food ad is a Nihilist Arby’s tweet directed by Terrence Malick. It’s only a matter of time at this point. It also made me start obsessively thinking about how Don Draper would pitch one of these dystopian brand farts, and goddammit, here we are. I am so, so sorry.
[Content warning: This takes a very dark path to Ridiculous Town, but I just watched a Subway ad where a teenager becomes a skinhead after his girlfriend cheats on him? Nothing matters anymore.]
DON: Picture this.
A young girl stares out the window. It’s raining, there’s fear in her eyes. The sense of foreboding is overwhelming. We look down towards her hand and see a waiver to get an abortion, the words “Parental signature required” glaring back at us.
As she walks down the hall we see a cross, pictures of the Virgin Mary, a certificate for Outstanding Achievement in Missionary Work. Impending doom hangs in the air like smoke in a seedy bar.
We cut to a mother and daughter having a tearful argument at the dining room table. Mom is clearly trapped between anger and the maternal need to comfort. No one knows how to react in these situations, and this family is no different. But there’s a palpable feeling that we’re at a low simmer. The pot isn’t boiling yet, and maybe it won’t. Maybe love will conquer all, and life will go on. The music swells as the mother gently touches her daughter’s face. Why else are we on this earth but to love our children? To be there for them where our parents were not.
And then dad comes home.
We feel it in the violin strings, in our bones, in the downward look on the daughter’s face. The chemistry in the room has been dramatically altered. At first, the father seems genuinely quizzical, concerned even. “What’s wrong?” his face asks, hoping maybe this is just some more teenage drama to be ignored over bourbon and a ball game. Hesitantly, his wife slides the abortion slip across the table. He picks it up. His face flashes with anger, and we know what he’ll ask next, what any father would ask next. “Who did this to you?”
As the mother rubs her daughter’s back to let her know, “It’s okay, you can tell us. We’re your parents,” the young girl begins to sob as her resolve shatters. She can no longer carry this burden alone.
“It was you,” she says pointing at her own father. “You did this.”
Instantly, a beautiful concerto begins to play as wife lashes at husband and husband lashes at wife. Interspersed between the violence we see idyllic childhood scenes of supposedly happy moments: Summer picnics, holidays, a new puppy. Each punctuated by dad looking at the camera, looking at us, just a bit too long. An inescapable truth underlining the constant misery tucked beneath every lie we tell ourselves about how love, family can mean anything in this world.
As we watch mom’s lifeless body tumble to the floor, the girl runs. She runs as fast as her legs can carry her because sure enough, dad has given chase. But he’s not a young man anymore. We hear the erratic thumping of his heart as it struggles to pump another pint of evil through his veins. The young girl stops long enough to watch him crumple to the pavement, his outstretched hand reaching towards her as the words “I’m sorry” flow from his lips. In that instant, her whole life shatters like rain against concrete. Nothing will ever feel safe again.
But in that moment, the clouds part, and through her eyes we see a building radiating with peace, warmth, tranquility. How can this be? Inside, smiling people calmly eat a delicious meal as we focus on a single sign in the window.
“Chipotle: Now serving queso.”
A serendipitous respite that can be hers, ours, all for the price of only $2 more.
JOAN: Jesus Christ, Don.
PETE: This is why I don’t watch French cinema. It’s all very homosexual.
ROGER: Who was the killer again? I fell asleep.
Header Image Source: Subway Brasil/YouTube