Parents fret about their teenager taking their car out for the first time alone. Subaru of America taps into that emotional moment in a new TV commercial that's airing nationally.

The ad, by Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, shows a real-life father, Andy Lyons, handing over the keys to his Subaru to his teen daughter Lanna. But we first see him giving the keys and instructions to his second, much younger daughter Georgie, who is sitting in the driver's seat as he leans in the window. "We knew this day was coming, that's why we bought a Subaru," the dad says.

The ad "highlights the reasons people buy Subarus, our top safety and reliability ratings," said Kevin Mayer, marketing communications director at the automaker. "We also know that many owners pass down their Subarus to their children since so they are so highly rated and we wanted to show that too."

Safety is one of Subaru's core brand values, but the company decided not to hit viewers over the head with a list of its top ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a spokesman at Subaru said.

The commercial also keeps to a four-year-old theme that demonstrates Subaru's owners having like-minded "values."

The commercial arrives as teen and distracted driving are prevalent in the news. The dad in the ad has real reason for concern. Motor vehicles are the leading cause of death among 15-to-20 year olds, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. The non-profit trade group at rmiia.org also reports that 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.

Subaru has been on a roll. The brand sold 149,943 new vehicles in the U.S. in the first seven months of 2010, 30% jump from the same year-ago period and ahead of the Volkswagen brand, says Automotive News.

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Jean Halliday is a seasoned journalist with the nation's longest consecutive run covering auto advertising. Her years in the trenches include stints at Automotive News, Adweek and Advertising Age. The native New Yorker now lives outside the Motor City. You can read Jean's blog at AutoAdOpolis.wordpress.com.

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