Toyota Thinks You Hate Your Kids

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Toyota has been buying a ton of ad time promoting their Venza “crossover” SUV outside of the normal target demographic for this type of vehicle. Rather than aiming at young, childless couples, they’re now aiming at retiring boomers. Salon reasons that this move is a result of the economy hurting younger buyer’s spending power, while the agency that created the ads preformed research that “reveal that active boomers are willing to spend on things that bring them self-fulfillment; are exploring interests and activities that promote personal growth and evolution in the interest of staying young, flexible and relevant.” What I find striking is the contempt with which the boomers’ children are portrayed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPiCYmcgLpY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JYSiQTTk2s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVD-6bYp594

In the first ad, scenes of energetic, smiling boomers on a mountain biking adventure are voiced over by their slightly neurotic daughter who is disparaging their lack of Facebook friends. In the second ad, a more self-centered daughter is obsessing over her parents’ well-being after they move across the country, leaving her to wonder “what do they do all day, without me there?” In the third ad, a suited son explains that he moved back to his parents’ house after college because he was “worried about them”, especially since his mom went to bed without making him dinner.

Assuming the ad agency is behaving logically, how does portraying boomers’ children as clueless self-centered babies “promote personal growth and evolution in the interest of staying young, flexible and relevant”? Two possibilities come to mind:

– Boomers like to be shown to be enlightened, exciting, and “relevant”, but they don’t know what those things are unless they are shown juxtaposed with something they believe to be the opposite, namely their own selfish children.
– These ads were created by 22-year-olds, and this is how they believe they’re perceived by their parents, so this was an honest attempt to communicate with them.

One thing is certain: this campaign is risky. Will boomers respond to ads that portray their kids as selfish losers, and themselves as youthful wannabes? Will anything increase the Verza’s flagging sales? 

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9 Responses to Toyota Thinks You Hate Your Kids

  1. Judge373 says:

    My parents own a couple Toyotas, so I kind of always assumed that Toyotas were for douchebag boomers.

    Now I know for sure.

    • Jerboa says:

      CUT TO:

      EXT. A BEACH – SAME DAY

      Judge373’s parents pull right up to where the tide breaks and begin unpacking their windsurfing gear from their new Toyota Venza.

  2. Torgest says:

    I’m with you, but I think you could have taken this one step further: The ad is intended to appeal to boomers because it recasts their kids in the role of parents.

    Look at ads two or three in particular: The kids are lame because they worry about their parents. How will they cope without me? That’s a self-centered question, to be sure, but more importantly it’s the self-centered question of every parent whose kids just left for college. It’s what you ask when your hatchlings leave the nest.

    What the ad pulls off is to give boomers a new set of parental units. Their actual parents are now dead or old; they don’t represent a credible establishment against which to pretend to rebel. Boomers are the establishment, but being in charge doesn’t work for that generation’s narrative, so it wants a different story, a new movie. Enter the ad industry, now with a brand new set of parental figures to oppress you, a fresh generation of squares against which to rebel: Your kids. You know, those lame suits to which your passing the consequences of your own life choices.

    • max says:

      Excellent. It’s amazing to see GenX and Y cast as conservative wet blankets or clueless losers in such a mean way. Another ad that I recently saw featured a clueless, balding middle-aged Xer admonishing his elderly mother as she takes off with her equally elderly boyfriend in his new muscle car (Dodge Charger/Challenger? Can’t find it online.). As they pull away from the curb, the elderly couple transform into teenagers, while the Xer son stares after them, literally talking to himself, stunned.

      We’re in divisive times, both socially and economically. These ads are also shocking because companies are abandoning their target demographics faster then they can redesign their products to suit.

  3. FAP33 says:

    I hate your kids, why wouldn’t you?

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