Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This Is the Christmas Spirit?

On a friend's blog about obnoxious advertising, I chimed in on the comments section regarding a Lexus Christmas commercial featuring a vapid, greedy little girl who grows up to be a vapid, narcissistic woman. Her great pleasure at Christmas time comes from (and this is explicit in the commercial) making her friend jealous because she got a 'better' gift.

It would be a waste of breath, or blogspace, to bemoan the commercialism of Christmas. It's a fait accompli. I get that. Count me with those who don't like it, but I get it. What I think is unique here is the crassness with which Toyota Motor Company is pitching its Lexus brand. Unquestionably, national media campaigns such as this are carefully vetted and screened by focus groups long before they go to the air- or cable- waves. Begging the question: Does Toyota's marketing data show their target audience to be shallow, avaricious women?

I don't believe there's anything wrong with exchanging Christmas gifts, even extravagant ones (which, by my standards, a Lexus would be). But it does offend me to use the pretext of Christmas to consciously foment jealousy.

It just doesn't seem to be the point of The One for whom the celebration is named.


todd said...

I like to think that even with all the commercialism that people, whether they think about it or not, are still celebrating the birth of Jesus!

David H said...

If it's created by Toyota, you can be fairly certain there is a valid marketing reason behind it, though I agree it does sound like it has a cheap "desperate housewives" feel to it. This reminds me of the vast diamond marketing campaign by De Beers preying on all men to give up ridiculous sums of money for a sparkly rock. I heard one on the radio recently where a guy said something like "sure I can tell her I love her but its nothing like giving her a diamond"

The Donald said...

DHamre, DBeers has done a textbook perfect job of marketing.

While diamonds are, from a physical standpoint, very interesting - for their hardness, utility (think industrial drill bits and other cutting/grinding applications), and yes, beauty, they are by no means particularly rare. And for at least a generation or more, the technology has existed to make synthetic diamonds the equal of mined gems.

DeBeers has for decades controlled diamond prices through restricting the supply and stockpiling compressed carbon in their vaults, and by shaming clueless men into, as you say, surrendering stupid amounts of money as a show of their affection to their betrotheds.

About 20 years ago I invested the requisite "two months' salary", or at least 2 months or more of disposable income (and at that time, most of my salary was disposable - those were the days!), believing it was a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. Well, as I learned last year, maybe not.

Actually, I think I would have a lot of problems buying an expensive diamond if and when I should decide to re-marry. Not that I wouldn't want to assure my beloved of my commitment, but I just don't foresee having that kind of disposable cash (heaven forbid going into debt for such a purchase), and I think the type of woman I'd be attracted to would look askance as well at such a use of funds.

As far as Toyota is concerned, you're right that they undoubtedly had lots of vetting on their campaign before airing it, making it all the more troubling, indicating there's a significant segment of the population that aspires, yes aspires, to create envy through conspicuous consumption.