Toyota Ad Was Supposed to be About Inclusion But misses the point
The inclusion of issues of social justice and inclusion can be a dangerous path for advertising. It can be seen as cheapening a message or commodifying it beyond what the original intent was. Look at the backlash against the Pepsi ad about millennium social activism with Kendall Jenner or the Ram Truck commercial that included a quote from Martin Luther King.
Toyota decided to have a car commercial that was designed to show unity between religions. The commercial shows a priest, rabbi, imam, and Buddhist monk get in a car to go to a football game. While obviously friends there is something missing.
For the world’s 3rd most popular religion, representing over 1 billion people, the omission seems painfully bad. In addition, there is clear room in the car, so it would have been easy to include another person. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, attacked the ad for the exclusion. The director of the ad, Ivan Zacharias, has apologized for not including Hindus in the ad.
However, the ad also seems to make light of spiritual leadership. The priest in the commercial rushes through a sermon in order to jump in a car to watch a Super Bowl game. Given that some have argued that the Super Bowl is in tension with Christian religious service and the Super Bowl happening on the Sabbath, this seems inappropriate.
It is unclear if the ad will continue to be shown.