Proud To Be Lame

We’re in a recession. Only the well-to-do folks with bottomless pockets out there are immune to the financial woes currently affecting millions of Americans. If you’re anything like me you’re cutting corners wherever you can, whether that means getting rid of HBO, eliminating going out to restaurants or making the painstaking decision to seriously curb your addiction to high class prostitutes.

The point is, everyone knows times are tough. Everyone, it seems, except Toyota.

When I first saw this I was in shock. And when that wore off, I skipped straight to anger.

Here we are in one of the worst financial situations since the Great Depression. Unemployment is rampant, job creation is nil and foreclosures are spiking faster than Tiger’s 3-wood at last call. So with Americans teetering on the edge of crisis and struggling to stretch every dollar to the max, I have to ask what marketing genius at Toyota thought it’d be a good idea to label prudent consumers as “lame?”

The dad in the commercial with the humiliated son is driving a beat up old station wagon. He probably doesn’t have any payments on it, thus saving him several hundred dollars a month. But instead of continuing to use that money to pay down his mortgage or squirrel it away for that little brat’s college tuition, Toyota thinks he should spend $35,000 on a new vehicle just to avoid being thought of as “lame” by his spoiled son.

Talk about not being in touch with your target demographic.

And what is up with that annoying kid? First of all, he’s like 9 years old and wearing skinny jeans. And in other versions of the commercial, he pulls up next to another kid whose parents are driving an old beater. The uncool kid’s parents are singing and trying to engage their son while Skinny Jean Boy boasts about his “Kid Cave” and simply blocks it all out by plugging in his headphones to watch TV in the back of his car while his parents drive. The message is supposed to be the parents ignoring their son are the good guys while the happy-but-albeit-dorkish parents are the dolts.

Because nothing says good parenting like making sure your kid is glued to a TV even in the car.

Look, I know Toyota is out to sell cars. And in the interest of full disclosure, I drive a Toyota Highlander. A 2002 Toyota Highlander with 130,000 miles on it. I’m just confused why Toyota decided to go in this direction after their notorious recalls regarding brake problems, steering issues and — of course — the sticky accelerators that allegedly sent several people careening to their deaths at 120 MPH. After all of that, they actually thought the best course of action was to insult the discerning customer while pimping their new product with a message of “your kids will finally think you’re cool.”

The only thing lame here is Toyota. And that little kid.

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25 thoughts on “Proud To Be Lame

  1. Childhood peer pressure to sell CARS? Yikes. This ad IS revolting… =(

    (Because, clearly, we all make tens-of-thousands-of-dollar decisions based on what our kids will think is “cool”)

  2. I suspect Toyota is just captitolizing on the fact that kids have been overindulged by their parents for the last 10-15 years! It is obvious with the fact that kids now wear designer jeans,have IPODS and cell phones. So, Toyota is targeting this fact. Ugly, yes. But I am not surprised.

  3. I sometimes wonder why ad agencies can’t hire better talent with the economy the way it is. Toyota is out of touch!!

    I don’t think that bratty blond kid would really care at that age. Ew. Reminds me of the town I grew up in. If you didn’t have money (we didn’t), you were lower than a turd.

    I think that kid’s dad is driving the station wagon ironically, right? ha ha.

  4. This is the same damn thing I thought the other night when I saw this commercial. So I’m riding around in this less than stellar car because my dad lost his job and we had to get rid of our other car because this was all we could afford. So this is their real “swagger wagon.” Well timed ad Toyota. Well timed indeed.

    My wife thought I was being touchy. Validation YES!

  5. I don’t think I’ve seen this commericial but by your description I agree it sends the wrong message. My parents didn’t have nice cars when I was a kid but I realize now that they had what they could afford and I never went hungry and always had clothes on my back and shoes on my feet, which I would have rather had. At least their car ran and got them (and me) from point A to point B when needed. Shame on Toyota.

  6. This is absolutely the epitome of poor advertising. We as parents already struggle with the whole “but so and so has it” syndrome. Why in the world would Toyota do this? Obviously NO ONE in their marketing department has kids.

  7. Perfectly said. This new series of commercials designed to pressure parents to be “cool” is awful.

  8. Man, I’ve been driving Toyota’s for a long time they are a great car. My wife has a 2006 Van and I have 2009 corolla. My mom still has a 1998 Toyota Corolla Station wagon with 300,000 miles on it that she occasionally drives. This commercial is so polar opposite of what Toyota has been about for so long, it really was a poor decision.

  9. Call me a relic but I prefer the wood-paneled station wagon. It’s retro. And yes, the ad is offensive. Way to encourage parents to turn their kids into entitled douchebags.

  10. That is a great observation you have made. I’ve seen that commercial but didn’t put it together in my head before now. It actually makes me a little mad. What other commercials have been insulting me I wonder? You have set me out on a challenge. Thanks!

  11. I’m starting to get concerned about my moral compass. I see these commercials and other things that bother everyone else and I just say, meh. Why does none of this stuff bother me? Am I dead inside? Am I naive to the effect these things have on my kid? I don’t know the answer. I think it might be a blessing though because I don’t have to be upset with all the money grubbing low lifes out there. I agree totally that it is a bad message. The kid is annoying. Your comment about skinny jeans cracked me up. And I drive 2000 chevy with 147,000 miles so I am clearly in the budget strained crowd. I guess I am glad their are people keeping watch because I am not cut out for that.

  12. 100% agree. I saw that commercial and my first thought was, “what a little douche.”. Regardless of economic climate (which only makes it that much worse), this ad spot is ridiculous.

  13. Right on. Those commercials made me so sick to my stomach that I bought a url, set up a web site, and started an online petition to get a movement going to force Toyota to pull the ads. Please encourage people to go and sign the petition, we need to show big companies they can’t do this kind of crass BS ptting kids against their parents. Thanks for your post!

  14. Otter – your moral compass is fine, just not all that sensitive. Sometimes it takes other people to alert us to something we would have just let go amid the relentless cacophony of day-to-day life in our consumption-driven economy.

    Dennis P – Every commercial is an insult to your an my intelligence. A rational person does not need to be marketed to. We should buy what we need based on our own reasons and conclusions. NOT because an ad company tells us we are lame.

    Economists have been studying human happiness for decades now, and one conclusion they have reached is that using our-hard earned, hard-saved money to buy the coolest new thing is a sure-fire way to waste it. The coolest new thing is only cool and new for a short time anyway. Real happiness is achieved when we use our resources to create experiences in the lives of our families which enrich our lives and form memories. In other words, if you have $35,000 to spend on a new car, the emotional well-being of your family would be better served if you spent it on vacations together, movie tickets, sporting events, and other shared experiences.

  15. 1. since when do you give a shit what your or any 9 year old thinks. I remember when my parents were talking about getting a newer car. I liked the Tarus. I was 9. My dad told me “shut up, who cares what you think.”

    2. professional stunt. Do not attempt. Yea because a 12 year old can’t handle a Bo and Luke General Lee imitation. Do we have to qualify everything?

    3. blame Bieber for the skinny jean look. Don’t worry, that kid will get beat up by the time he gets home for wearing skinny jeans.

  16. Dude, THANK YOU! I have been bitching about these commercials for what seems like an eternity! The thing that pisses me off the most is that it is basically saying, “You SUCK as a parent if you don’t give in to every whim that your kids have.” I admit that we drive a minivan that came with a dvd player installed. However, we don’t use it! I feel very strongly that my kids should entertain themselves the old fashioned way in the car – by reading, playing ‘who can spot the most red cars?’ and annoying the hell out of each other. ANYWAY, yeah. Sorry about the tangent. It’s a stupid ass commercial and I don’t think they are winning anyone over with it.

  17. Even Don Draper would spit out his scotch at the untimely douchiness of the Toyota ads.

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