Toyota pokes fun at parents- again- in the ad blitz to launch the revised 2011 Highlander.
The Big Idea from Saatchi & Saatchi in Torrance, California, centers around the theme: “Just because you’re parents, doesn’t mean you have to be lame.”
The line is delivered by a blond, eight-year-old named Nathan James, who shares tips on dealing with up-hip parents. He thinks his parents are dorky because they have a really, old minivan, which looks like an unbadged Chrysler, complete with fake wood trim. Hmm, wonder why they didn’t show a dorky, old Toyota Previa minivan.
Toyota made fun of parents in this year’s launch of the new Sienna minivan. But that campaign, which is still active, works because it’s so obviously tongue-in-cheek, calling the minivan the “swagger mobile.” The Sienna push always shows the same actors, a young couple with two young kids, and their non-adventures. But the parents are in the joke- not the butt of it.
Toyota says this Highlander blitz is aimed at parents with children between the ages of 7 and 12, and adds these kids “are easily embarrassed by their parents” and “the last thing they want is to be picked up from school in the old family hauler.”
I’m sure Toyota did their homework (translation: research) to end up at that target and conclusion. But for some kids, it’s not like the embarrassment stops at 12. It also seems like a small audience since it only covers kids in a six-year age range.
A dealer told me a number of years back that parents were bringing their kids into his showroom and they had a lot of sway about what their parents bought. This just floored me, since my parents never brought me to the showroom for my opinion when they were buying a new car. I walked to elementary school and later took the bus, so I never had to worry about any possible embarrassments about my parent’s cars, which I actually couldn’t wait to get my hands on to drive myself at the legal age.
I know times have changed, but this kid in the Highlander ads is just too smug. Have a look at the new Highlander videos on the automaker’s You Tube channel here
On the bright side, at least Toyota has gotten smarter – sticking to a single theme and actors and integrating it across all mediums for a single product. Not too many years back Toyota would have several totally different ads for the same model. At least this way you’ll know when you see “Nathan” what’s coming and you can take appropriate action.
But you’ll probably be seeing a lot of him, since he’ll be in every TV commercial airing during Modern Family, The Good Wife, The Big Bang Theory, plus Sunday and Monday Night Football. Toyota says it’s got integration in Top Chef, Bones, Parks and Recreation, In Plain Sight, and Mixed Signals. Little Nathan will be in print ads in TIME, People, Family Circle, Men’s Health, Real Simple, Parade, Sports Illustrated, More, Cooking Light and O the Oprah Magazine.
And this actor is hosting his own web series on Toyota’s You Tube channel in a late-show genre, interviewing family, friends and neighbors. Look for him hosting movie reviews on Fandango and a photo competition on Photobucket. He and/or his voice will be part of the entire campaign, complete with Nathan’s seal of approval on Toyota’s Highlander microsite here