Has anyone seen the new Toyota ads with the leather-jacketed blond boy touting his love for the new Highlander? I’ve seen it three times but it only took once for me to make a call to Corporate customer comments, something I’ve never done before over an advertisement.
Why did I call? I have nothing against Toyota. In fact, we are in the market for a new car (or two if they both break down at the same time, both have over 130K miles.) We’ve looked at several Toyota models, particularly after the company stepped up to the responsibility plate following recent safety recalls. Toyota has historically been a great company that makes a great car.
Perhaps that’s why this latest advertisement is so disappointing to me. I felt like I’d been slapped across the face by a friend.
In the ad, a curly-haired boy of about ten or twelve years of age walks by a man who is washing his clearly past-its-prime minivan with wood paneling. The boy says something about certain people being geeks. Ok, so the wood paneling is out-dated, no argument here. He then hops into the new Highlander in the driveway, commends the woman behind the wheel (presumably his mother) on her automotive choice and says to the camera ”just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you have to be lame,” implying this child has cool parents because they tote him around in a brand new shiny vehicle made by Toyota.
Is it just me or is this one of the most ill-timed and poorly thought out enticements of all time?
Ok, I understand that Toyota wants to sell us a vehicle. I get it. But when so many families are out of jobs, and homes are being repossessed left and right, making what you already have last longer is not only necessary, it is fiscally responsible. And it’s not just a good idea for our own solvency, its must-model behavior for our children in order to keep them out of the ever-growing black hole of debt. When that kid has a ledger to balance of his own, he might not think Mr. Wood Paneling is so geeky after all. Until then, he needs to learn a little respect, and so do the advertisers.
Come on Toyota. Parents who drive old cars are not lame. We are trying to be financially wise and set an example of delayed gratification. I’d love a new Highlander and when the current economic climate passes maybe I’ll get one. But until then, please don’t call us “lame,” especially through the mouth of a child.