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.