Commercials are all about grabbing your attention in 30 seconds or less. Mostly, I watch TV via the DVR, so I miss nearly all the commercials. Every now and then, though, one slips by. This Toyota ad for the Highlander SUV definitely caught my attention, though probably not in the way Toyota hoped for:
Am I actually supposed to find this child cute?? All I wanted to do was yell at him to watch his smart mouth. I don’t find anything endearing about a kid who refers to his family as “the Geek family” and complains that his parents are too dorky for him. He ridicules the family car, which his dad is shown lovingly washing. Here’s a newsflash for you, kid: That car is paid for!! You probably haven’t made the connection, but the money that’s not going toward payments on a “cooler” vehicle is buying your expensive leather jacket and your too-tight skinny jeans. Or maybe your parents are putting that money away so that their precious, ungrateful offspring can go to college one day. I would hardly call that “lame.”
I get it that this is supposed to be a caricature of a modern, savvy child. The problem I have is that this type appears so often in the media that it is passed off as normal. How many Disney Channel shows have kids mouthing off at adults and making snide comments about them? This isn’t really anything new (“The Simpsons,” “Malcolm in the Middle”), but it is so commonplace now. Just spend an afternoon with “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” or “iCarly” or even “Sponge Bob Squarepants” for a taste of where kids (How old is the typical audience?) are learning to be smart alecks. Or you could stroll through the mall on a Saturday and get an earful of the zingers and profanity that kids toss around casually.
When I was growing up, I would be reminded to watch my mouth, stop the back-talk, or quit sassing. And profanity always brought the old gem about getting your mouth washed out with soap. These days, though, it seems that there is no such thing as sassing anymore. It’s all just a child expressing himself, no matter that everything coming out of his mouth is disrespectful.
Toyota execs, you got my attention. However, you guessed wrong that this would get me to look favorably upon your company or products. All I can think of now is that kid in your ad who needs to be “taken out behind the woodshed,” as my grandfather would have said. Oh, and the kid also needs a haircut!! Apparently, uncommon housewives were not in your test marketing group.