Today, as I was researching ways to teach kids about consumerism and the Advertising Machine that gets them to buy crap and then throw it away, I was reminded of the Toyota Highlander commercial starring the blonde kid in the bomber jacket who makes me angry enough to want to punch someone.
I'm not linking to it, if you want to see it, you have to search it out on your own.
The gist of the ad is that a snotty 8-year-old is imploring parents to not be "lame" by driving a particular type of SUV. He tosses pitying looks at kids in other cars, and rolls his eyes a lot.
I would love to know what the thought process behind this ad was. What ad exec decided it was funny and acceptable to suggest that 8-year-old's opinions should be considered in the carbuying process? Who thought that adults should give two shits about what a kid thinks is "cool" when making a huge purchase like a vehicle? And who thought we'd all find it charming when this kid is telling us that we should seek his approval?
I have had kids tell me that things I am wearing aren't "cool." I simply reply that "you're eight, and I don't consider your opinion when I get dressed." When did we start worrying about shit like this? I understand that the ad probably has an element of absurdist humor, except that it wouldn't be funny if it wasn't actually happening to some degree.
More importantly, I find it troubling that we're suggesting that behaving like an asshole is okay if your possessions are sufficiently stylish. Studies have basically proven that kids under the age of about 12 can't really distinguish between advertising and regular programming, nor can they understand the rather sophisticated mindgames that advertisers play. All they see is a blonde kid being a dick, and having that behavior rewarded with leather seats and built-in LCD screens. I see these kids every single day. The ad isn't that far off the mark.
I'd love to see someone make a spoof ad involving the blonde kid expressing embarrassment about an older, more modest car, and hearing the parents say "Gee, if you don't like the car, I guess you never have to ride in it again. I hope you enjoy walking."
If you'd like to read some horrifying, depressing stuff, start here.
Children as Consumers
Just to be clear- I adore my bike. It does not define me. Neither does my car, or my pants, or my shoes.