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The Toyota Highlander – Please Don’t Fall For Its Latest Marketing Campaign

November 9, 2010 · 63 comments

in Parenting, Personal Finance

I was watching a commercial last night for the Toyota Highlander, and I wanted to scream.   The commercial features one boy who is at school, and he is embarrassed because he has has to ride home in a station wagon.  Then there is another boy in a fancy SUV that is all happy to be in his parent’s vehicle.  The commercial ends with the ‘rich’ boy saying “just because you are parents, you don’t have to be lame”.


I started seething immediately.   I know the kid is being paid to say what he says, but I want to give him a talking to!  For one thing, kids should never, ever be blamed for or praised for the wealth of their parents.   With the exception of child stars, kids have nothing to do with their parent’s wealth.  Therefore, children should not be viewed one way or the other for the clothes they wear or the car they ride in.  Of course, I realize this is just a dream of mine, and reality speaks differently.  However, why does a commercial have to reinforce this thinking?  It is one thing to state the positives of a vehicle, but to prey on the insecurities of someone that would fall for this type of advertising?  My guess is that if you purchase a car because you don’t want to be viewed as lame, then maybe you are someone that shouldn’t be sinking a bunch of money into a fancy car.  (My assumption is, if you so worried about image, it probably carries over into your house, your clothes, etc.  Perhaps you are an over spender?)   Not to mention how bad this commercial probably makes the kids feel that really do have to ride in wood-paneled station wagon.

This commercial strikes every raw nerve in my body, probably because it stands for everything I am not.  This might be bad news for my kids, but I really don’t care if I am viewed as lame for what I drive.  (Or for the rules I enforce.)  My job as a parent is to help ensure my children become happy, productive members of society, that are also financially responsible.  If my purchases and the rules I follow make me a ‘lame’ parent, then that is absolutely fine with me.  I didn’t care about popularity as a kid, and I certainly don’t care about it as an adult.

Have you seen these commercials?  I know there is more than one, I believe the other one features the brat being all proud to ride in the Toyota Highlander, compared to his friend who is in the lane next to him in an old minivan.  (Again, there is the ‘lame parent’ quote.)  I certainly hope this campaign backfires on Toyota.

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