Is It Just Me? Or Do You Hate Toyota Commercials Too?

Is it just me, or do you hate those Toyota Highlander commercials, too? You know the ones I’m talking about – they have the pint-sized, leather-jacket wearing, blond mop-top spokeskid who points out how lame his parents are because their car is not cool?

I, for one, don’t find it cute. It’s sort of a microcosm of bad parenting. Toyota, you obviously know your market – moms. Car dealers know that women make the car buying decisions in their families. But who is writing your advertising copy? Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t want my 9-year-old embarrassing me into buying a Highlander. Yuck.

He walks around pointing to the embarrassing old station wagon in one commercial. In another, some moms are singing along to an ‘80s tune (HOW embarrassing is that?), while their poor child is victimized by the noise. The cool little mop-top kid, on the other hand, can ride comfortably in his Toyota Highlander with his headphones on as he watches a cool cartoon on the DVD player in his SUV. Wow. Thank god he doesn’t have to interact with his PARENTS.

Don’t think that my son didn’t try to influence our car buying decisions over the years. He did. From the moment my son was born, he was obsessed with cars. His favorite thing to do as a two-year-old was look into people’s garages. He was kind of an idiot savant when it came to cars. He could identify the make and model of any car we pointed to when he was three years old. And I, to this day, don’t know how he knew. Now that he’s 23, out of college, with a good job, he can pay for his own really cool car (and he does). And if you see me driving around in an old BMW, that is my son’s first car, which he paid for, for the most part. I just inherited it.

My mother-in-law gave us a car, which we still have. It’s a gray Pontiac or Buick or something like that. It gets from point A to point B. But my kids were horribly embarrassed by it. My husband and I named it The Bluster Bus (because it always created a lot of blustering in our kids). They would refuse to ride in it, or if they had to ride in it, they would duck down, just in case someone they knew saw them. They said it wasn’t appropriate for adults to be driving a car like that. Translation: We’re not rich enough to afford super-expensive cars and that’s embarrassing.

OK, I’ll admit that I would occasionally feel kind of bad about not having a snappy, super-expensive SUV to zip around town in. We did have a van, but got rid of it when the paint started peeling off the hood. Which reminds me of the other car commercial I hate – the one where the mom is really cute and gets mistaken for the babysitter because someone THAT cute and THAT hip would NEVER be CAUGHT DEAD DRIVING A VAN. But, hey, if you buy THIS van, you’re hip and cool, too. These ads must be written by idiots.

OK, I know. We have a car culture. Americans have always been in love with their cars. And I know we moms can be pretty competitive with each other. But, come on, moms. Let’s stand up and say we’re not gonna take it. We’re not going to be manipulated into buying cars because we might embarrass our children. How dumb is that? Do our children make our decisions for us? Kids can’t even reason. I readily admit that I’ve fallen victim to mom guilt more times than I can count. And I regret it. But don’t we have enough real things to feel guilty about? We don’t need to feel guilty about not buying a $50,000 car.

Categories: Editor’s Blog