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Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.

Toyota Venza commercial: ‘This is living’


EDITOR’S NOTE: The commentary here reflects my interest in advertising as a marketing student. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.
UPDATE 8-12-12: Allyn Rachel, aka the Toyota Venza girl, is angry about Triscuits.

A new ad for the Toyota Venza takes a swipe at social networking sites. The spot is funny, a nice dig at 20somethings, but not entirely spot-on. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of those pedants who demands absolute truth in advertising; I believe in poetic license — even in business. It’s just that I’m a marketing student who gets 20 e-mails a day telling me who is using social networks and why, so I thought I’d show off a little bit and explain why it doesn’t reflect current patterns of social-network-site (SNS) usage.

In the clip, a daughter (played by Allyn Rachel) says she read “the majority of an article online” that said more and more adults are becoming anti-social, so she has been aggressive about getting her parents on Facebook. (They only have 19 friends — losers.) The ad cuts to shots of her parents enjoying their Venza crossover vehicle and mountain-biking with friends — presumably older adults — while the daughter stays home looking at puppies on Facebook. (“That’s not a real puppy.”)

As much as I’d like to believe in a world where old folks such as myself are joyfully cycling through the Santa Monica Mountains, it’s more realistic to believe Internet users older than 35 are just as glued to Facebook and other social sites as their younger counterparts.

According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Social Network Site survey, which was conducted on landline and cellphone Oct. 20-Nov. 28, 2010, more than half of today’s social-network users are older than 35. In 2010, 48% of Internet users over 35 were on a social networking site, compared with 18% of Internet users 36 and older in 2008. SNS use among those 18-35 grew to 80% in 2010, up from 63% in 2008. The explosion of older SNS users has put the average age of adult social-network users at 38, up from 33. It has also expanded the opportunity for marketers to reach these users — the ones with the most discretionary income — through social media.

Digital intel outfit eMarketer reported in June these users are also connecting with — or “liking” — more brands on Facebook. So if the spendiest (my word; it’s trademarked) consumers are swarming Twitter and Facebook, legacy marketing rules still apply: Message matters.

RELATED: More on the girl in Toyota Venza commercial


ALSO . . .

UPDATE 2-10-2012: Pew releases a new survey on social media users. Sixty-eight percent of 30- to 49-year-olds use social-networking sites.
UPDATE 9-12-2011: Spotted on MSN
RELATED 9-11-2011: How Lady Gaga helped me get off Facebook
UPDATE 7-26-2011: Toyota Venza girl ad on Yahoo


Author: Jacqui Barrineau

Jacqui Barrineau is a writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with husband Trey, a Shetland Sheepdog and two unhelpful-but-funny cats. Her work has appeared in "So to Speak" and "Calliope," and she's a regular contributor to the flash-fiction sites Paragraph Planet and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. Once upon a time, she was the audience engagement editor at USA Today. Now she does other fun things that involve advertising, marketing and social media. The views expressed here and in other outlets are hers, not her clients'. Outside of work, she's proud to serve on the Northern Virginia Community College Marketing Advisory Committee. As a committee member, she joins industry leaders in lending their knowledge and expertise to ensure the college's Marketing curriculum is relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and the surrounding business communities.

52 thoughts on “Toyota Venza commercial: ‘This is living’

  1. Pingback: Pretty much the most offensive commercial I’ve seen « J's Pages

  2. I love it — as others have pointed out, it’s funny, ironic, light, but makes a worthy point about lifestyle. It works on multiple levels. It’s aspirational about how the Toyota Versa could fit into an (idealized) healthy, active, social, baby-boomer/early retiree lifestyle. I’d expect most people in the target demo (boomers) would love it, and their response wouldn’t hinge on whether or not they use Facebook. Virtually everyone now uses Facebook, every age and demo. But we all believe we use Facebook in a healthy, balanced, way. I doubt many younger people would be offended on behalf of their generation. Regardless of age, most viewers wouldn’t identify with the daughter in this spot. She is a caricature of lameness, and most viewers know she represents a certain type of social-media addict, not all people of her generation.

    The double irony is that much of the impressions the ad gets will be on social media (I saw it on Pandora, then on YouTube, then searched and found it on this excellent blog). Much of the buzz and discussion will take place on social media. But afterward we will all go mountain bike or do something else in a good, balanced way, right? This is living 😉

  3. Pingback: Toyota Venza girl angry about Triscuits « J's Pages

  4. I completely agree. I cannot stand to look or hear her. I have noticed that is what advertisers are into right now. Ugly bug eyed, whiny nasal voiced people.

  5. The Venza ad is brilliant. It pokes gentle fun at what we used to call the “generation gap” without a hint of mean-spiritedness towards either generation. And Allyn Rachel’s delivery was as authentic as it was charming. We will be seeing more of her.

  6. I just want to know where the table came from!

  7. It looks like you got pretty deep with the commercial too. I think I have the right to look at something the way I want. However I totally agree with you on people becoming more antisocial. I think everyone thinks they are the star of their own reality show. Even if ppl do go out they sit around taking pics of themselves to post online. Who do they think is watching their boring life? I noticed that ppl have become more narcississtic. I was going to write a paper on it so I began looking for some info and discovered that a psychologist had already found what I thought was happening. There are more cases of narcississtci personality disorder and he thought reality tv and social media was to blame. I was quite proud I was right. I thought that you might be interested in the article. OH NO I cannot find it right now. but here is another http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-narcissism-epidemic/200906/the-normal-narcissism-reality-tv and http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/why-narcissism-and-other-high-conflict-personalities-are-on-the-rise/

  8. Thanks for the comment. If you want to be repulsed you can look up the carl jr ads on youtube. I will check out the article.

  9. You’re right: The ad is clever and appealing, and I like that it’s taking a swipe at the Generation Facebook. But my post was more a brief (very brief) commentary on social network usage among adults. The Pew survey showed more than half of social network users are older than 35 – so the idea that only the “young folks” are on Facebook all day doesn’t hold water. A lot of the grownups aren’t mountain biking — they’re facebooking. I know from my personal experience in the workplace that they’re facebooking at work, which is sad commentary on the state of the American workforce. But that’s another rant for another time. 🙂

  10. The ad is stupid, posting pic’s on facebook is stupid. In fact, the ad is so stupid I searched for a comment board like this just to express how annoyed I was at the entirety of the ad. What a waste of money. I guess they are hitting some target audience. So stupid…

  11. Totally agree!! 😉

  12. I don’t like the girl in this commercial when she starts talking her eyes pop out of her head and her voice is so boaring makes me wanna go to sleep, it annoying she talks about something completely different about the Internet or Facebook has nothing to do with a car, makes no sense the girl ruins the whole commercial sorry!!!! 😉

  13. IMHO, I think you are looking too deep into this commercial.

    “more and more adults are becoming anti-social” – very tongue-n-cheek. Who are the ones buried with their smart phones TXTing their “friends” when a phone call would do? Under-30 somethings. Toyota is taking what concerned parents think of their technology-dependent kids (& their generation) & making a play on it.

    Real Living – is it fawning over pics of small puppies or venturing out on a mountain bike? Your decision but still a great commercial because it’s clever & appealing

  14. Interesting comments! I have to admit that I completely missed the ironic intention of the
    commercial and actually thought the target audience was vapid 20somethings.

  15. Hi and thanks for commenting. I have to say that I don’t see a lot of the Carl Jr.’s ads because I don’t live in Carl Jr.’s market. However, I have an idea of what you’re talking about: Several years ago there was some ridiculous spot that featured the Blonde of the Month (Paris H.? Jessica Simpson?) in a bikini, eating a burger while washing a car — because clearly you can be a size 0 and eat burgers and wear a bikini. But if it’s anything like what is airing now, I see why you would take offense. As for the Yoplait commercial, Yoplait has had a terrible history of bad commercials. They use the worst possible stereotypes of women. One Yoplait ad made a blogger’s “Eight TV Ads That Hate Women” list. You check it out here: http://www.cracked.com/article_17036_8-tv-ads-that-hate-women.html

  16. Since you are a marketing student, I would love to give you my opinion on ads. I hate them all. What I hate the most is unnecessary sexual crap to sell something. Carl Jr being the poster child of this crime. I believe their marketing dept needs to go into porn. Wait they already are, but I digress. Another offender is Yoplait Light and Fit with a girl who steals a yogurt and sucks the bottom out of it…..get it. It is all over YT with comment after comment talking about her sucking abilities. Is it lost on companies that 85% of purchase decisions are made by women? Also I do not like ads with smart mouth kids and smart mouth women, whose target is always a man who is portrayed as dumb and confused about the product. I hope you find my opinion useful. TY

  17. I cannot stand this commercial simply because this ugly bitch from the McD McRib commercial is in it. What is up with advertisers reusing these same ppl? And it seems that if the actor/actress has an annoying nasally voice they are all the more a commodity.

  18. If you are 40 you don’r have a 25 year old daughter!!! You date 25 year olds! This makes Venza look like it’s for retired old people over 65!

  19. I believe there are certainly a lot of active adults, which was the ad was trying to illustrate, but the Pew study I cited in the post shows that the over-35 age groups are the fast-growing user base in the social media world. Is that to say that these users spend all day on Facebook? Not necessarily. But they are on Facebook (and Twitter and Pinterest), and marketers trying to reach these older users (consumers) need to tailor the messages to better persuade these potential customers to buy in.

  20. Pingback: Jackson Hewitt: ‘This is Steve’ « J's Pages

  21. I’m 56, live in Estes Park CO. I rock climb, bike, ski, snow shoe, hike and run. I go to the gym 5 days per week and love to be outdoors. I am into real relationships, not virtual ones. My dad is 81 and golfs twice per week. He walks 9 holes and rides for 9 holes. He still does all of his own yard work and loves the outdoors to. I can’t get my kids off of the flippin’ computer long enough to enjoy real living. Sure, I use my laptop, but I don’t live on it and post what I am doing every single moment. “I woke up today.” (post) “I have a headache today” (post) “I’m hungry” (post)
    Sure, there are lots of couch potatoes my age, but plenty more 20 some people out there too. Don’t lump all of us older folks in one category please!

  22. You’re right, I watched it again, as I’ve done a thousand times and she does say “So Sad”. But as Jacqui says I just like hearing the last 2 lines.

  23. Pingback: New short film from Toyota Venza girl « J's Pages

  24. Pingback: New short film from Toyota Venza girl « J's Pages

  25. My readers — I love them all — but they have little attention span. They only want to hear her say, “That’s not a real puppy.” 😉

  26. I think she says, “So sad.” And the ad is amusing, and so is the exciting commentary. 😉

  27. Insulting, offensive. Strong words. I wonder what words you have left for the truly aggregious things out there.

  28. Pingback: Toyota Venza girl does an ad for McRib « J's Pages

  29. I’ve also thought that she was saying “How sad.” I’ve had other readers say that, too. (I was just calling them losers to be funny. 🙂 )

  30. BTW, I don’t think she say’s “losers” , I believe she is saying “how sad”…

  31. Pingback: eBay polishes its new act: ‘Salon’ commercial « J's Pages

  32. Pingback: eBay polishes its new act: ‘Salon’ commercial « J's Pages

  33. Pingback: Toyota Venza commercial: ‘I’m pretty much killing it out here’ « J's Pages

  34. So you’re saying the Venza commercial, which seems to target 40- to 55-year-olds, actually 30-and-younger somethings who might buy their other cars? Very interesting point! I can see that. … I’m getting ready to post another sort of “anti-social-media” ad that’s a bit different. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that as well. Thanks for stopping by!

  35. I find the commercials quite insulting. It’s clearly made by people who have no idea what they are talking about because they’re too far in their own box to actually use the internet. It’s a compete straw-man of age 30 and under people aimed at flattering their 50+ audience (see these losers? You’re better than them and our car makes it so). This is somewhat unusual because you usually don’t want to insult anyone in your target demographic and 30- is certainly in it. The other issue that makes this first one significant is that they put these commercials on shows like Conan that are highly targeted at younger people. If you’re gonna insult us at least have the dignity to do it behind our backs…

  36. Money and education (and Toyota crossovers) don’t guarantee wisdom or even common sense …

  37. The real question is how parents who can afford that lifestyle could have such a stupid kid. . .

  38. Pingback: JUST IN: Toyota Venza girl does a plug for eBay « J's Pages

  39. Pingback: Toyota Venza girl spotted on MSN! « J's Pages

  40. Hey Carol, what are you talking about? The commercial (and the other Venza commercials) pokes fun of the younger generation and their “social” lives while the parents are out mountain biking and doing other things in real life.

    This is why the younger generation pokes fun of the older generation because they are “always” misinterpreting things.

  41. I find those Toyota Venza commercials quite insulting and offensive . That sort of advertising would not encourage me to consider any of their cars to buy. People 40 and older are not so decrepit that we can’t enjoy life after our kids leave the nest. We have much more energy because the kids are not draining us of our energy. You people need to grow up and think about the people who might be considering buying your cars. It is most likely those parents you depict as too old to enjoy life, and not those kids who think their parents lives are over just because they moved out. Quite the contrary!

  42. Hey all,
    I am an almost 50 year old mother of 4 children in high school and I college. I have a professional degree, demanding career and active social life. I rarely find time to watch t.v. as I’d rather be engaged socially in a real world situation and not virtually. So for me to see this commercial is a long shot in the first place , but this one really speaks to me. The other night my husband and I came home from going to dinner and a concert to find three of the four children at home wondering where we’d been — one was on the PC in the family room, one on their laptop and the other texting and tweeting away.
    I have shared this with friends and colleagues of a similar age and they have all had the same reaction. Do I remember this is a Toyota commercial? Absolutely..and I think it is great.

  43. Pingback: Got Mail? What kind? Google’s Gmail push « J's Pages

  44. I like how when you go forth and live you post pics on Facebook and we can see. 🙂 Like the latest series from your walks! Gorgeous! xoxo

  45. Everyone loves the line about the puppy. Most of my hits the past week have been for the ad that says, “That’s not a real puppy.”


  46. You have a good point: The brand could get lost in the banter, but people are watching the clip multiple times, so the name is making some sort of an imprint. Advertisers have to be careful when relying on too much wit: We’ll enjoy the punchlines but forget the product.

  47. Wow! 2,200 miles! That’s awesome! I wish more people were as active as you! A friend of mine just celebrated five years of being cancerfree with a 100-mile bike ride, but he usually rides 50 or 60 miles (or more) on Saturdays. And yes, he’s still on Facebook a lot. (That’s how I know all this.) 🙂

  48. Pingback: And even more on the Toyota Venza girl! « J's Pages

  49. I’m a 50 year old and I am out mountain biking! Over 2200 miles this year alone.

  50. VERY funny commercial! I love the line about the puppy!

  51. I don’t find the ad brilliant, if you only showed half of the commercial I wouldn’t know what the heck the commercial was about…

  52. My take on this — as in most “Madison Avenue” come-ons, the point of the commercial is not to reflect social-networking science but to stand drudgery-reality on its head, selling a “dream” of what life could be. Creators of the ad know that older Americans aren’t out mountain-biking; the ad resonates because it convinces us we’re missing something. To the rescue! this vehicle, the solution to a problem we didn’t know we had. GO FORTH AND LIVE. Also, the taunting of the “smart-alecky” younger generation is a sweet twist — further empowers the oldsters, even though cute-puppy discourse is a mirror on ourselves. Because who is a captive of the screen but the target audience watching the ad? I find the ad brilliant.