Artsy, Viral Short Film Is Actually A Subway Commercial

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A video from 2016 that suddenly went viral this week features many years in the life of a young man, from his birth to what appears to be his 20s – and then turns out to be an advertisement for Subway.

Video director Ryan Simmons posted the video to his Twitter account Thursday, describing it as “another capitalism greatest hit” and offering $100,000 if anyone could guess the brand referenced. Simmons credited a friend named Kevin Weir, an advertising industry creative director, for the discovery of the ad.

Per Fast Company, the video was created by a production company called Stink, and appeared on the YouTube channel of the Brazilian market for Subway in 2016, although the version posted by Simmons had an English voiceover.

The ad shows a baby being born and then progressing through childhood and adulthood.

“Every day, life asks you the same question,” the commercial asks near the end, as we realize the protagonist is standing in a Subway location. “What are you gonna try today?”

It appears to be an homage to the 2013 Richard Linklater film Boyhood, which followed the life of a young man and was filmed in small increments over the course of 12 years.

Simmons’ video had received over 600,000 views as of Thursday afternoon, and had been retweeted over 5,000 times.

It drew some humorous reactions, as well.

“Boyhood: eat fresh,” writer Rachel Syme joked on Twitter.

“From your birth to your first day of school, we see all with our unholy eyes. Your life is ours to watch….. Subway eat eat fresh. You have no choice,” Twitter user MosheeDave joked.

Writer David Hill, on Twitter, likened the Subway ad to “Terrence Malick’s Footlong of Life.”

“The Supreme Court just enshrined gerrymandering into law but this is somehow the most dystopian thing I’ve seen today,” Hilary Agro tweeted.

Subway’s advertising, for many years, focused on Jared Fogle, the Indiana man who lost over 200 pounds on a special diet consisting of Subway sandwiches. The chain’s long-running campaign, beginning in 2000, followed Fogle through marriage, children, and even his running a marathon.

After 15 years, Subway cut ties with Fogle in 2015 after his home was raided by federal investigators under suspicion of child pornography-related crimes. Subway immediately suspended their relationship with the longtime pitchman, and in August 2015 he pled guilty to charges related to both child pornography and to crossing state lines to pay for sex with minors, per CNN. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison and remains incarcerated.