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Subway's viral ad about a boy growing up may just leave you in tears

A short film about a boy growing up is going viral. But the ending is pretty surprising.
Subway Brazil
/ Source: TODAY

Watch your back, Budweiser. There's another deeply emotional commercial out there that's making waves across social media.

Instead of going with the usual "$5-footlong" jingle, Subway in Brazil took a rather dramatic approach to advertising its sandwiches by tapping into all of the emotions (yes, pretty much every single one) that occur as people experience the many highs and lows of growing up.

The full-length ad, which runs about 2 minutes, approaches a level of drama and eye-catching cinematography more along the lines of an independent arthouse film than a spot for a restaurant that specializes in selling cheap subs.

Grab the tissues before hitting play, trust us.

Though the spot first aired in 2016, it's now going viral on social media after Twitter user Ryan Simmons shared it with the world on Thursday.

"got [sic] another capitalism greatest hit. i will give you one hundred thousand dollars if you can guess the brand by the end," he wrote, alluding to the fact that this commercial's look and tone doesn't really match the product it's plugging.

The ad begins with a woman giving birth in a bathtub. A delicate musical score plays as the child grows up and we see various moments in his life, ranging from his first steps to getting into a schoolyard fight. Viewers witness the main character being a prepubescent Peeping Tom and also going through several stages of developing a crush. As the commercial continues, the pace of the music continues to pick up.

First crush. First kiss. First love. First sandwich?
First crush. First kiss. First love. First sandwich? Subway Brazil

Things take a dark turn when the boy sees his girlfriend (or least someone we're lead to believe he was romantically involved with because, again, this is literally a 2-minute movie ... why is so much happening?!) with someone else. The protagonist then shaves his head in a rage before slamming his bedroom door in his mother’s face while they argue.

Things seem to get a little better when the aging boy eventually travels abroad and then moves out. The video ends with a voiceover that plays as the boy, now a young man wearing a shirt and tie, walks into a shop. He slowly approaches a woman wearing a Subway sandwich artist's outfit who is ready to take his order.

Perhaps she, too, has been waiting her whole life for this momentous encounter.


“Every day, life asks you the same question. What are you going to try today?” the voiceover says, ostensibly equating our life's experiences with what we choose to eat — and, more specifically, what condiments we prefer with our turkey-and-cheese subs.

The pensive nature of the ad coupled with the revelation that it's for Subway has caught many people off-guard.

"'what are you going to try today' as if i haven't been getting the exact same order at subway for the last 29 years with only two small tweaks during that time," commented one person.

"M Night Shyamalan would KILL to be this good at plot twists again," someone else wrote.

The spot that originally aired in Brazil was about a minute shorter and not in English, Fast Company reported.

The ending also featured dramatic flashes of deli meats and toppings being layered onto a soft roll interspersed with shots of the main character's life — a not-so gentle reminder that Subway actually makes food ... and not just commercials that make us want to reflect on all of life's thrilling triumphs and crushing failures.

With its "Boyhood"-like charm, the short film is pretty spectacular ... for a commercial. It's haunting, beautifully shot and brings up as many questions as Subway has sandwich combinations. Perhaps that was the point all along!

Still, we need to know: Was the boy actually peering through a keyhole at his mom getting undressed? Is the woman at Subway the girlfriend who spurned him when they were teens? Is he dressed up to go to work at the end, signaling his arrival at adulthood? Or, after all of that living, was he actually just hungry — and Subway happened to be the closest place to grab a bite?

We may never know the answers, but we salute you, Subway, for turning inexpensive deli toppings into a cinematic tour de force.