Friday, January 1, 2010

Only in your dreams, Toyota

How big and exciting is Toyota's latest new car deal? Why, its so exciting that Toyota has decided to recycle a commercial from last year which features a crowd of escaped lunatics knocking each other down as they race madly through a Showroom in a desperate attempt to claim "their" Toyota.

Here's a guy splayed all over the hood of a perfectly average-looking Corolla. Here's another clown, perhaps well-respected in his place of employ where his coworkers don't realize he's an insane ass incredibly susceptible to lame marketing gimmicks, entering his choice of vehicle via sunroof. Here's a woman hurling herself through the (unfortunately) open driver's side window of what looks to be a Tercel (seriously, though, what difference does it make? It's a Toyota) and then locking the door to prevent anyone else from "disputing her claim." I doubt that the Oklahoma Land Rush featured as much crazed mayhem.

At the close of the commercial, we see a single poor slob standing in the now-empty showroom, weakly raising a hand and announcing "um, I didn't get one?" A burly, "this is way too easy" salesman steps up and gives him a re-assuring touch on the shoulder. "We've got more" he confides, using his thumb to point off-screen (my guess is that he's pointing outside, to the dealership's lot. Why do I figure this? Well, maybe it's because that's where 99% of the cars offered for sale by every auto dealership in the United States can be found. )

This commercial features a theme which is all-too-standard in car ads: the drooling, way-too-eager customer whose only real concern is availability. We see these smiling, jumping-up-and-down-as-if-they-really-dropped-in-just-to-use-the-restroom doofuses leaping into cars and seeking out salesmen as if they aren't really the least bit interested in monthly payments and interest rates, just where they sign their names so they can drive off with their shiny new autos. None of the customers depicted resemble anyone I know, or anyone I've ever seen at a dealership, or anyone I would want to count as a friend, or anyone I wouldn't disown as a relative. Only in commercials are people thrilled out of their minds at the prospect of buying a car, and in constant terror that this month's "big sale" will "pass them by." The sensible people I know wouldn't think of walking into a dealership with anything more than a "I'm just looking, and may buy at a future date" attitude. Because nobody I know enjoys paying more than they need to.

And in the age of 10% unemployment (actually more like 17% if you count those who have simply stopped looking, or whose benefits have lapsed) there's something just a little gauche about showing starry-eyed morons knocking each other over to plant their flags on Toyotas.

If the way cars are purchased on television bore any resemblence to the way they are purchased in real life, I'd quit teaching and apply for a sales position tomorrow. Because it looks like the easiest job on Earth.


  1. It's reassuring to know that the car manufacturers think the average North American consumer has won-ton soup in his or her cranial cavity; that's because in this world of ceaseless change, it's good to know that some things will always be the same.

  2. I hate this ad. My take on it is that it's supposed to be akin to musical chairs -- there's one less car than there are customers on the showroom floor.

    So, the game unfolds, and all but one customer gets a car. What does the salesman tell the "loser"? "Don't worry, we've got more."

    That line undercuts the entire premise of the ad. Yeah, the premise is flimsy to start with, but if you decide to compare your TV car lot to a game of musical chairs, you have to take that implied analogy all the way to the end -- the guy who doesn't get a Toyota should be walking home, or crossing the road to the competing dealership in hopes of getting a Kia or a Ford before those are all gone, too.