The Toyota Highlander: an SUV for Terrible Parents

March 9th, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  12 Comments

If you’re like me, you spend your days watching “House” on Hulu when you should be working. Which means you’re constantly watching commercials for the 2011 Toyota Highlander—ads like this one:

Do I really need to point out how thoroughly loathsome this ad—and the entire campaign, by Saatchi & Saatchi LA—is? God, when that curly-haired fucking moppet announces, “Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you have to be lame,” I really want to strangle him. I don’t care about the creatives behind the project—that kid is such a good actor he deserves to die a horrible, horrible death.

Over at some other Website, a Toyota spokesman calls the campaign “light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek.” It may be the former, but certainly not the latter. Everything in it is designed to show a hyper-self-consciously cool kid embarrassed by a parent’s poor choice of vehicle. No tongue, no cheek. And that is bad. Bad bad bad!

Yes, I know the ads have been out for several months. But they keep showing them! And so I have to conclude that, on some level, this has been an effective marketing strategy for Toyota. How, to paraphrase Insane Clown Posse, does that fucking work? What kind of person watches this ad and says to themselves, “You know, I don’t want to embarrass my child with my old car? I’m getting a Highlander!”?

Probably not the same kind of person who reads DadWagon. Which is why I feel justified in saying something like: If you buy a Highlander because of these ads, I hope you drive it off a cliff with your smarmy, leather-jacket-wearing kids in the backseat.


  1. SCOTTSTEV says:

    March 9th, 2011at 10:26 am(#)

    One thing to say, is they got the age of the kid down right. The tween years are when kids are just beginning to be embarrassed by their parents. So instead of this being a natural and healthy phase, the anxious (and gullible) parent sees that it’s a problem that can be fixed by simply getting a spiffier ride.

  2. Jeni says:

    March 9th, 2011at 11:53 am(#)

    Shoot, if you’re THAT worried about embarrassing your child because of what you drive, why not just go out and by a Lambo? 😉

  3. David says:

    March 9th, 2011at 12:39 pm(#)

    This has been one of the most annoying and offensive ad campaigns in years. Genuinely hate the parents and the kids in every one.

  4. jjdaddyo says:

    March 9th, 2011at 2:28 pm(#)

    If this kid were mine, he would soon be entertaining himself by reading the ads on his new luxury ride, the city bus.

  5. michael says:

    March 9th, 2011at 3:16 pm(#)

    I had the exact same reaction when i first saw these ads.

    I’ve never seen a sense of entitlement depicted so annoyingly in a commercial. I literally crossed the Highlander Hybrid off my next car list after seeing this ad.

  6. Tim says:

    March 9th, 2011at 3:52 pm(#)

    Anyone who cares about any part of this ad other than the part where the sneakily smoking-hot mother of the kid’s friend does her thing adorably (0:19-0:22) needs to have his limbic system evaluated. You are goddamn right I’ll consider the Highlander when making my next purchase or lease decision.

    P.S. The camel-breaking straw is that the kid is wearing those “skinny jeans.”

  7. T says:

    March 10th, 2011at 9:57 pm(#)

    Ha! I was watching House on Hulu, saw the ad and felt compelled to google “the highlander SUV commercial is awful” and I found this. The exact thing I was thinking.

    I too hope to see highlanders and smarmy leather-jacket wearing brats launched from a cliff to the inevitable explosion and fiery death below.

  8. Chromesthesia says:

    April 21st, 2011at 10:23 pm(#)

    I hate this commercial, however, he’s just a kid. No, why not put the ad agents in this car and drive it off a road instead?
    Not literally. They should make better commercials. But yeah, don’t hate on the kid.

  9. Gloria B. Jenkins says:

    April 22nd, 2011at 10:52 pm(#)

    “The kid” is a character in the offensive ad. He’s fair game. And he’s so superciliously obnoxious! None of my kids would be like that, but, if they were, they’d find themselves crammed in the backseat of my 14 year old Infiniti with their two other siblings. Nothing like brothers and sisters to make you realize you’re not the most important thing in the universe.


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