Toyota is running some seriously negative ads right now. They depict a little kid who through being given too much in his young life has decided that some cars are lame and parents who drive them are lame by association.
I find this disturbing. Fundamentally, the concept that a kid being driven around by his parents should be thankful, period. He should be thankful that he’s not walking. He should be thankful his parents will even take him along. He should be thankful he gets a ride to school. He should be thankful that he isn’t living in a poverty-riddled 3rd world country where he doesn’t have food to eat or clean water to drink.
But Toyota wants kids in America to think that all our wealth in owning a vehicle and sending them to school and dressing them and feeding them isn’t enough. Toyota wants kids to think they need a Toyota Highlander or some spoiled little snot will think less of them. It is a really disgusting appeal to people’s vanity and a truly awful appeal to kids to bully each other.
I’m sadly surprised there isn’t more of a backlash against it. I opened a web site at http://toyotaislame.com and on it I’ve listed online articles, forums, and blog posts that I’ve found so far that discuss the commercials. I’ve found around 100 and counting. I also started a petition against these commercials in hopes of getting some momentum to stop them. But it’s not picking up steam yet and I am not sure it will. No churches seem to be speaking out against the commercials. No politicians seem to care. Nobody seems to care much.
Perhaps it is a sign of our society’s deterioration that we will simply tolerate the commercials. I find that it’s a bit like having an open sewer pipe running into my living room. Not that Toyota is the only company spewing media sewerage; they certainly aren’t. It is the blatant, unvarnished way that they’re promoting negative values to sell cars that has so offended me. I mean I bought the URL toyotaislame.com for crying out loud, it made me pretty cranky.
I wish that Toyota will take the high road for their High-lander and pull the ads. But even more, I hope that the backlash against Toyota will grow, I hope to see san awakening of a hibernating moral sense in this country that says commercials like these are very basically wrong and counter to our values. Send Toyota back to Japan, we don’t need Toyota autos if the company is going to misuse the privilege of selling vehicles here in this way. It’s insulting.