Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Worst Commercial of the Month

posted by Nell Minow

Does anyone think it makes sense to have a commercial with a child telling you which SUV is cool? The only thing the Toyota Highlander ad makes me want to do is call child protective services to kidnap that kid for a deprogramming and a serious lesson in family dynamics and basic economics. I know that no child is in a position to buy a car, but this commercial is selling them something much more dangerous — the idea that material possessions determine what is “lame” and that children should tell their parents what to buy.

  • Rach

    Hi Nell,
    The Disney and Nickelodeon channel(s)often have the parents as simpletons with the children running the show telling the parent what to do, buy, etc., then there are movies with the same type of portrayal. Plainly said, most companies care only about the profit margin, target kids in their marketing with little regard for family dynamics and the sustainment of which.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Rach. I don’t like shows that demean parents and make them look like incompetent doofuses, but I can understand that they are a modern version of the kinds of myths and fairy tales that reflected children’s need to imagine themselves as heroes in a world where they are just learning how to be confident and capable. But there is no excuse for the shoddiness of this commercial in promoting the worst kind of condescending consumerism.

  • Alicia

    I can see why this commercial would really work with children, who are always concerned that their parents aren’t “cool” enough. Advertisers are shameless.

  • mel

    I agree. So what this commercial is saying is that if you do not buy a new car you are a loser . I am sorry but in this economy we cannot be worrying about driving in a new car when we are trying to keep our homes and to use the kids is ridiculous kids are already pressured about clothes and other things and do not need to be worrying about what kind of car the parents drive if it has four wheels and gets you from a to b then thats all we need. I know one day if will be looking for a car and it sure won’t be a Toyota thats for sure.

  • Derek Link

    I agree that the commercial is crass and undermines family values. It is disgusting and we need to join together to force Toyota to pull the ads off the air. Please sign the petition at!

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Derek!

  • donnabelle70

    I totally agree! In an economy where many parents are out of jobs and losing their homes, I find it completely unfair to teach children (and adults!) to ridicule the family vehicle just because it’s not “new”. We haven’t experienced many of the hardships facing so many families today (Thank God) but we still drive a 7 yr old Kia minivan with 118,000 miles on it and a 2001 Pontiac car with nearly 100,000 miles on it. I wouldn’t buy a Highlander if I COULD afford one because it’s too small for my giants and way too expensive and I hate this commercial. Now, should someone want to give me a new Toyota Sienna, I’d be happy with that. lol But I wouldn’t buy one. My son who is 12 and has Asperger’s Syndrome occasionally makes comments about my van falling apart. I remind him that if we were to buy a new vehicle, he wouldn’t have me to drive him to school and pick him up after school. He wouldn’t have his video games or comic books or novels. All because I would have to give up my job as a stay-at-home mom and return to the workforce full-time. That’s when he shuts up. lol

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, donnabelle! I love to hear about parents who are able to explain to kids about the value of money and the value of values! I proudly drive my old cars until they fall apart. We told our kids that we were so cool we didn’t have to define ourselves by how much money we spend.

  • rob

    I urge any and everyone to contact Toyota’s marketing department and let them know your feelings. I did – and got what seemed to be a “that’s nice, we don’t care” response, but if enough people let them know it is not appreciated that Toyota is teaching elitism and snootiness to children, maybe the message will finally be received. A terrible ad.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Rob, great idea! The number is 800-331-4331.

  • Emily T.

    Totally agree! I was horrified when I saw this. I will write to the Toyta marketing department.

  • Udon Nomy

    The Highlander is not a minivan.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks, Udon Nomy! I know more about movies than I do about cars. I’ll make the correction.

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