I normally don’t use this blog in this way, but have you seen the latest Highlander commercial?  The one in which a young boy feels sorry for another boy because he isn’t “cool?”  The one in which he uses the term “lame” as a derogatory comment?

My husband first mentioned the commercial to me a few days ago and I was appalled by it.  Upon discussion with a few friends on Facebook, I looked up Toyota’s website and found a mailing address for correspondence, and I encourage you to write a letter and express your disappointment and disgust at this commercial, which encourages disparity due to economic status and materialism as a determination of “coolness” and self-worth.  Horrible lessons displayed by children on a commercial obviously geared towards children and families.  Here is my letter, along with the correspondence address below:

November 13, 2010
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.
19001 South Western Ave.
Dept. WC11

Torrance, CA 90501
To Whom It May Concern:
            I am writing to express my anger and disappointment in the latest Toyota Highlander commercial, in which a young boy narrates the commercial and because his parents own the more expensive (from what I can tell by the commercial) Highlander over the car the other child is in, he is more “cool.”  What is worse, the term “lame” is used as a derogatory term.  It is offensive to anyone who is disabled or has a child that is disabled, and it is offensive to use children in a commercial to relate “coolness” to a certain economic status or ownership of a certain car. 
            There are many other witty, fun, exciting automobile commercials out there.  Toyota has had many successful commercials such as the Corolla commercial in which the car is passed down through the family, or the Camry commercial, where friends get together and help someone buy their first Camry.  I myself own a Scion.  However, this may be my last Toyota that I ever own because of the derogatory and degrading nature of this commercial.  Shame on Toyota for degrading others because of their economic status and using the term “lame” as a derogatory term in a commercial by children geared towards children and families.
The Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell

5 Responses to Open Letter to Toyota: Offensive and degrading commercial

  1. Derek Link says:

    Go get 'em Rev. Mindi! I'm with you 100%. I've started a site at toyotaislame.com where I am re-posting all of the anti-Toyota online chatter and I started a petition to influence Toyota to rethink their ad campaign. I hope you'll sign the petition too!

  2. Rev Maddie says:

    You go girl! Especially at this time of year, this out front consumerism is over the top.

  3. I posted a similar complaint about the Toyota commercial today on my blog (though I can safely say that it was not as civil as yours). A few hours later, one of my readers noticed that YouTube 31-second version of the commercial has been put into "private" viewing mode, meaning the video, and all of the negative comments people had been leaving on it, are now hidden. I don't know if this means they'll be pulling it off the site, but I consider this a small victory. The 15-second version is still up on the site for viewing.

  4. Diane says:

    The first one of these bigoted Toyota commercials that I saw was the one where a young boy is hiding in the bushes so no one knows the old "uncool" car belongs to his family. I was outraged and a bit nauseated. I believe Toyota should publically apologize and send their internal and external advertising groups to sensitivity training pronto.

  5. Ellen says:

    I could not agree more. This commercial stayed with me a long time. It also uses a little boy of maybe 7 and he behaves like an insufferable materialist snob–given these lines by toyota? The “family” time is also degraded in favor of plugging your kid into a device? The message is that money and toys matter more than relationships? Everything about this commercial was memorable and not in a good way.

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