Station wagon chic

In portraying itself as the “cool” choice, Toyota has reinforced how boring its vehicles can be

Station wagon chic

The unintential star of Toyota's latest ad is the Roadmaster, not the new SUV

In a commercial for the Toyota Highlander SUV, a tousle-haired preteen mocks his classmate Billy, whose dad picks him up from school in a wood-panelled Buick Roadmaster station wagon. “That’s what utter humiliation looks like,” the kid scoffs as Billy hides from his dad. “This Highlander is so cool, I actually want to be seen in it.”

 

The commercial seems to have backfired. In portraying itself as the “cool” choice, Toyota has reinforced how boring its vehicles can be—car enthusiasts love old station wagons, not hybrids, and the Buick Roadmaster is a cult classic. (Auto blog Jalopnik posted an updated version of the commercial that makes Billy’s station wagon look like the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.) “A Buick Roadmaster is, and always will be, cooler than a beige Highlander,” Matt Hardigree writes on Jalopnik. Among the many reasons, he notes, “It’s not a Toyota.”




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Station wagon chic

  1. The first tag ever for the Buick Roadmaster, outstanding!

    The mind boggles as to why Toyota would poke fun at the Buick Roadmaster, which was last made in 1996, and was never the competition for the Highlander, ever.

    Moreover, the vast majority of families started buying minivans in the 1980s. These traditional station wagons held on for 10 years at GM, but they were less frequently purchased by large families and more as "gentleman" cars that could double as a truck in a pinch (4×8 sheet of plywood fits in back, and available air suspension kept loads level).

    I suppose the ad agency thought it would be cute to pull out something they saw as so hilarious antiquated, as we've moved from station wagons to minivans and now to amorphous crossovers.

    Sadly for Toyota, they ran into a groundswell of public opinion that would like to honour what once made the American auto industry great, and doesn't appreciate being mocked.

    At any rate, making fun of your "competitor's" customers is the third rail of advertising, and this is a case study in why it should usually be avoided.

  2. The first tag ever for the Buick Roadmaster, outstanding!

    The mind boggles as to why Toyota would poke fun at the Buick Roadmaster, which was last made in 1996, and was never the competition for the Highlander, ever.

    Moreover, the vast majority of families started buying minivans in the 1980s. These traditional station wagons held on for 10 years at GM, but they were less frequently purchased by large families and more as "gentleman" cars that could double as a truck in a pinch (4×8 sheet of plywood fits in back, and available air suspension kept loads level).

    I suppose the ad agency thought it would be cute to pull out something they saw as so hilarious antiquated, as we've moved from station wagons to minivans and now to amorphous crossovers.

    Sadly for Toyota, they ran into a groundswell of public opinion that would like to honour what once made the American auto industry great, and doesn't appreciate being mocked.

    At any rate, making fun of your "competitor's" customers is the third rail of advertising, and this is a case study in why it should usually be avoided.

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