Why, Toyota?

Robert F. Kennedy once asked "You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'"

Now Toyota has audaciously -- and expensively -- echoed him in a new ad campaign touting their green reputation. The centerpiece is an ad directed by an Academy-Award-winning director which features a Prius sprouting in a field and then blowing apart like a collapsing haystack into the same field. Having just watched it, I can say that it is ridiculously cheesy. And this comes from a dyed-in-the-wool greenie.

But that's not what's appalling about this effort, which I assume is a response to the fact that we called Toyota on their green bluff, pointing out that while they have green products their position on fuel economy policy stinks. What's really annoying are the goofy, supposedly artsy rhetorical questions they ask in the ad.

Most notably: "Can we make a car that has zero emissions?" and "Can you have an impact by making none at all? Why not?"

As noted in Brandweek, Toyota is talking out of both sides of their mouth. They talk a big, pseudo-poetic game about products while they fight policy reform that would make a much bigger dent in the threats of oil addiction and global warming.The other big thing that's galling is that this is probably the largest ad campaign in their history. They will end up sinking about 40 MILLION BUCKS into this attempt to repair the company's green mantle, which has become frayed due to their wrongheaded position on policy.

To conclude, I have my own poem I'd like to share with Toyota:

Why, Toyota?

You seemed to heed the warnings

The Prius helps fight global warming

But instead of winning the race against pollution

You've turned back against the solution

Fans watching from across the nation ask

Why waste millions on touchy-feely ads?

Why waste millions lobbying against the best standard?

Why not invest in more efficient vehicle choices instead?

Why, Toyota? Why???

About the Authors

Deron Lovaas

Director, EEFA, Resilient Communities, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

Join Us

When you sign up you'll become a member of NRDC's Activist Network. We will keep you informed with the latest alerts and progress reports.