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Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

OUR hungry people are more deserving than YOURS!

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Is it just me, or is this whole Wal-Mart “fighting hunger together” thing kinda creepy? It’s a charitable promotion being conducted through Facebook, but it’s when I start to imagine the faces of the “losers” in this thing that I wince.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud Wal-Mart BIG time for helping; there’s obviously no more basic need than food, and I’m an automatic fan of any company who attacks the problem. Whether it’s driven by  civic responsibility, enlightened marketing, or whatever – hungry people get fed.

But in this particular effort, cities and towns are pitted against one another. The community that gets the most people to “like” its effort to capture Wal-Mart’s attention wins $1 million for its food banks, etc., The next five highest finishers get $100,000 each.  The ones further back in line get what they already have: nothing.

On the surface, it feels good to think that, with that absolutely free and painless little ‘click” on  the Facebook link, I’m somehow helping those in my community (Grand Rapids, MI)  who go to bed hungry. But, as I click, I can’t help but think that I’m also saying, “‘Take THAT, Fresno’s hungry. You’ll just have to starve.” or  “Sorry, St. Louis. Better luck next hand-out.”

I don’t mean to be a critic. But there’s something about making a competition out of it that makes me a little queasy. People are people, and people everywhere deserve to be fed. I’m not sure that turning it into a provincial “root for the home hungry” is the way to do this.

Couldn’t the money go to where the need is most pronounced? Or divvied up to Read the rest of this entry »

Toyota advertising adrift.

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2010 at 11:08 am

Wasn’t long ago that Toyota had it all: the sales gains, the great rep for quality, the cutting-edge hybrid, etc. No longer. I don’t know how much of this has to do with the “sudden acceleration” problem that surfaced within the past few years, but something has made Toyota a “stealth” carmaker – off the radar for many buyers.

In my opinion, the company’s current advertising is certainly no help, if not part of the problem. When I think of the word “Toyota” several things come to mind. First is the “Toyotathon” annual sales event that shows up every December. While it is never very “creative” it is certainly typical and relatively inoffensive in its attempt to add the urgency that few car shoppers really believe makes any difference in actual price. But the spots are harmless – even if I can’t honestly say I was eager to see Erik Estrada again. (No wonder he’s fighting crowds to get a deal on a Toyota, though -THAT I can believe.)  

But the actual brand commercials do damage. The first image that enters my head is  that of a showroom-visiting couple seeing themselves in a car trunk in a dreamy “mock hippie” setting, enjoying the promised peace of mind. Gag.

Next, though, is a spot that may indicate a carmaker that truly doesn’t know how to read signals. An obnoxious little blond kid is the “star” who enjoys the creature comforts of a Toyota van or  four-by-four (I can’t bring myself to care.) But his attitude of entitlement and his final words make my skin crawl:  “just ‘cuz you’re a parent doesn’t mean you have to be lame.” 

Now, maybe ten years ago, when everything was ‘yuppie” and the economy was soaring, parents would humor- and perhaps even care about- such nonsense.  In this tension-filled tough economy, he’s not the slightest bit cute or motivating.

All he makes me want to do is lock him in the trunk with the couple in the other spot, and let Toyota’s whole current campaign drive off into the sunset. Might be the best thing for Toyota, too.