It’s a good thing Toyota didn’t hire theologians instead of market researchers to build their new ad campaign because they probably wouldn’t be selling many cars. On the other hand the ads make a good theological commentary on the spirit of the age. I’ve been trying to actually catch a radio spot on my recorder but haven’t been able to record and drive during rush hour. So I’ve lifted the text off of the Toyota dealer’s website’s “Guest Services” page:
More pampering while you wait!
Our exclusive guest services area is nothing like you’ve ever seen! From a full-service nail salon, barbershop and shoeshine and massage salon, our new facility has something for everyone.
Book an appointment with a licensed cosmetologist to coincide with your vehicle service and save time out of your busy day.
Our exciting children’s play areas are equipped with a pirate ship and video games.
There are three customer lounges with large screen TVs and comfy couches so you can relax while we take care of your vehicle.
Catch up on some work in one of our wireless Internet computer stations.
We also offer shuttle bus service to and from Chandler Fashion Park Mall so you can get some shopping in while we handle your vehicle.
In the radio spots the announcer talks about Toyota providing you the ultimate car buying experience…and enumerates more of the amenities and services including a gourmet sandwich and fresh baked cookie shop, and Edenic pathways between the four “lifestyle environment showrooms”, then there is a dramatic pause, and the announcer breathily whispers… “THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!”
OK folks…First of all, does ANYONE for a moment REALLY believe that a CAR DEALER offering a manicure and massage, a miniature Disneyland for gourmet cookie sugar amped A.D.D. kids who were dragged to their self indulgent parent’s “car buying lifestyle experience”, a gourmet sandwich shop, a large screen Hi Definition TV set playing Dr. Phil, a shuttle to a mall to kill time, wi-fi for workaholics or the internet addicted really changes EVERYTHING?... In what reality? In whose world? Is there really a planet or a universe that exists that will be radically altered because someone can now buy a car and have all of their passions, vanities, obsessions and delusions fed at the same time? The fact that someone even THOUGHT of this “tag line”, and even THOUGHT that it would speak to a target market, and even THOUGHT that it sounded “punchy” or had ANY substance to it is utter insanity. “THIS changes EVERYTHING??” THIS sounds like a line in a Monty Python bit.
But, no,… some Ad agency with high dollar market research and psychological prognosticators on staff really sold this as a serious ad to Toyota. Someone really thought it said something of substance to a target market. And the sad and frightening reality is, it does speak to a real market. The other sad reality is that this does not change anything, it merely AFFIRMS everything about the fallen order. It changes nothing and portrays vividly everything that is vanity and chasing after wind about THIS planet, universe, reality and existence. People are captivated by the promise of pleasure, ease, comfort, entertainment and the carefully crafted illusion that someone really cares about them.
The illusion is the same illusion that was presented to Eve in the garden by the serpent who told them it was he, not God who really had their best interest in mind: The fruit looked good to eat, it promised pleasure, and it was a painless shortcut to attainment of the goal of “personal fulfillment”. St. James calls it “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the vainglory of life”. It is the ungodly lie that the universe revolves around me, my desires, my wants, my comfort, …AND I deserve it all, .... after all, Ronald McDonald has already told you that you DO deserve a break today, and the Burger King has told you you can have everything YOUR way, remember? Ronald the clown wouldn’t lie to us would he? The Hamburger King wouldn’t deceive us, would he?
Is it any wonder that nearly every advertiser appeals to our sense of entitlement, vanity, and gluttonous desire for pleasure without consequences? How often can we listen to these messages and not be sucked in? How often can we be told we are the center of the universe before we begin believing the lie? How often can we observe the results of good market research and carefully crafted advertising and not begin to think this is normal and incorporate it into marketing God? Satan marketed a false god to Christ in the wilderness: pleasure without work, the world without a cross, power without death. All illusions, all lies. All un godly.
Like the Serpent, Toyota and hosts of other advertisers appeal to your passions and your vanity and they present you with the illusion that it is all about YOU the customer, that they care about your well-being, your status, your pleasure, your comfort, your desires and your needs. I know this might be news to you….But the reality is, they care about your dollar, not YOU. YOU are a demographic, a statistic, a “target market”. In the carnival world, you’re called a “mark”, to a prostitute you’re a “john”. It all amounts to the same thing: a promise of pleasure and pampering, providing for your every fleshly and psychological desire and the illusion of love and care…and its all a snare. There is no concern for the person, only the objectifying of a classification of consumers in a niche market. It is manipulation and lies, an illusion presented for an ulterior motive. The reality is, the spiritually darkened human person is being manipulated to extract the dollar. There is no true “pampering” only fattening for the kill and like in the classic movie, “The Time Machine”, when the siren wails, the masses march like zombies into the abyss and forfeit their life. In Philippians 3 St. Paul speaks of those who are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetites, who glory in their shame and whose mind is set on earthly things. For these, the sirens of advertising call, and the “markets” flock to the dealers and eat the fruit.
But nothing really changes.
Everything stays the same.