Folks who follow me on Twitter might know that as a marketing writer myself, I recently had some, um... strong... opinions on the new Toyota Highlander ads series.
These commercials are the ones featuring the blond, tousled-haired tot who is the self-proclaimed Mr. Blackwell of all that is Cool and Roadworthy in the world of foreign minivans.
See, this mouthy munchkin has been dealt such a rough hand in life...
While he personally is apparently so cool that car windows frost up when he walks by, he also bears a horrible burden. He confides that he, by some strange twist of fate, is son to the "Geek Family." Parents who drive an unfashionable wood-paneled family truckster circa 1985.
From what I can tell, the trouble with this car isn't reliability or even spaciousness. It's that it's not even retro enough to be sufficiently back-in-style for his discerning elementary school tastes.
(Y'know, like velvet Elvii, lava lamps, or 60-year-old Cher wearing electrical tape again.)
So we are naturally led to agree that the opinion of a person whose whole life has spanned the service of a single two-term President is the one we should be following for our major automotive decisions.
Unfortunately, when you are a changeling from the Magical Land of Coolsville, where the highways are paved with gold, and all the precious wee ones ride in Corinthian leather car seats in supercars, well... landing up in the Geek Family truckster becomes a painful pothole in your young existence.
And that's where I think Supernanny needs to come in. See, I would like Supernanny to sweep in the moment Coolboy's disrespecting Geek Dad's sock-and-sandal footwear combo, give the kid an eight minute broadcast time-out on the Naughty Curb, and lecture the adults on backbone, brats and parenting.
Says Supernanny Jo in my happy vision:
"You will sit on the Naughty Curb for disrespecting your parents, making Bart Simpson look like Mother Theresa, and not being even half as funny as your ad agency writers think you are. You will sit here for an eight-minute media black-out, and then you will apologize to your mother, father, and primetime viewers on basic cable."Barring that, I would settle for some Roald Dahl/Willy Wonka-style justice.
Now, of course, there are those who would say, "But it got your attention, and you're talking about it now, giving it press, so therefore, it is good marketing!"
I figure those people also probably enjoy pebbles in their shoes and Pauly Shore marathons and can make excuses for that, too.
See, for me:
Hey, I might still consider this product/service in my decision-making process.
Negative attention, or in this case, "causing me to disproportionately contemplate the lamentable state of the world in terms of parenting, respect and manners, even though I know very well it's only a friggin' 30-second car commercial"
Associating your product with smart-mouthed, fast-talking kids, and reminding us why nobody ever really liked Danny Partridge much. And look how he turned out.
But just think: somewhere in the Magical Land of Coolsville, by the babbling energy drink brook and sitting under the tree where the hot new video game discs grow, is the real Geek Family Kid-- the missing one, the one that got swapped by the media trend fairies for Too Cool Boy.
Sure, he probably has a haircut shaped like a cereal bowl and knows Star Trek episodes like baseball stats. But in this magical land he might just say an even more magical word to one of the adults.
Like "please" or possibly "thank you."
The Coolsville elders will have to call a meeting to figure out how to handle it.
Are there any ads out there right now that make you blow a gasket, scratch your head, or just wish they would go away?