Thursday 13 November 2014

HAPPY HONDA DAYS VS YOUR CHILDHOOD featuring Skeletor, He-man, Jem, Gumby, Pokey, G.I. Joe, Strawberry Shortcake, Stretch Armstrong & Fischer-Price Little People.

What If........Robot Chicken did a car commercial?

Honda's latest batch of U.S. based holiday season car commercials have dug deep into the Nostalgia factor this time around, featuring a variety of predominantly 80s toys hawking Honda's automotive wares to appeal to......well, everybody that was a kid in those eras, I guess.

While the idea is undeniably clever, what does it say about today's "adults" that Honda feels the need to tap into that demographic by reminding people of the joy they might've felt as a kid with a new toy, and likening it to buying their latest model?

It makes me feel funny in my tummy.

What it doesn't do is make me want to buy their car because they've found a way to "speak" to me.

It makes me want to burn everything I own because I'm a chump that is still dealing with the after-effects of exposure to 80s toy advertising as a young timer. And worse than that, continuing to celebrate it as an adult.

This ad says, "Hey Chump! Remember when we made you like this? We're going to use the same crap we made you like as a kid and use it to make you like our new car! You chump. Buy it chump. Welcome to capitalism."

Oh, hey Gumby...what's that? You can't find your soul?

It's not like I genuinely look at the 80s toy brainwashing that I was mercilessly bombarded with as an innocent child as anything much more than what it was. It's not like I put all these licensed properties on some sort of a pedestal, think about how much integrity they had, and what I wouldn't give to go back to a simpler time when gigantic toy corporations mass produced a bunch of plastic junk, relentlessly advertised it with associated cartoons and constant TV ads and then placed it in every single store I was exposed to as a child. And, obviously, it's a bit rich for me to rail against the things that I, clearly, continue to have a fondness and affinity for, and actively promote myself in a roundabout way, on Hoard World.

But when Skeletor is trying to sell me a car, it makes me feel weird.

You could have at least gotten Alan Oppenheimer to do the voice. 

This is not the first time and it won't be the last time that licensed characters have been used to sell stuff. That's practically why they exist.

And it's absolutely not the first time that incongruous links have been made between properties and other markets to sell extraneous product. Happy Meals are a great example of toy cross promotions that probably shouldn't even exist.

Remember when all the X-men drove their own vehicles??? No? Who cares! Eat our burgers!

Poor Hit Monkey here only started eating Cheeseburgers so he could collect the set.

I already brought this up over at the Hoard World Facey B earlier today and one Nicholas Ferrell (of The Bad Beard fame) summed it up all pretty nicely.

He said......

"These properties were all blatant cash grabs anyway. As a matter of fact, our entire collective childhood was one big giant cash grab during the 80s. This feels pretty appropriate to me."

He's not wrong about this. There is absolutely something fitting about all of the marketing spin for these ads. Using established cash-grabs under the guise of whimsical nostalgia to attempt a modern day cash grab. It's the perfect heist.

A vaguely narcissistic Strawberry Shortcake gloating about her own car commercial while her pals vie for attention.
One of the rare moments of actual inspiration in these ads when 80s rock-star Jem uses the air vent to blow her hair back.

While predominantly 80s based characters are used, Stretch Armstrong is absolutely late 70s, Fischer-Price Little People have been around since time began (although only officially called 'Little People' since 1985) Gumby and Pokey (whom, for some reason, disturb me the most - maybe because I thought Gumby had more of a soul than the others) originated in the 50s, even though he has been on heavy repeat since - and had a massive late 80s revival series to boot. It's not like Gumby was a stranger to merch but I hope Art Clokey's estate got some money out of this car commercial- I feel like this mightn't have happened if he were still alive. I could be wrong about this. Who even owns Gumby these days?

The only evidence that they're not only firmly targeting late 70s and 80s born adults. These guys have been around in some format or another prior to even Fischer-Price "inventing" them in the 50s.
Did Diedrich Bader do the voice for him in this ad?
What was that Pokey? Art Clokey is spinning around in his claymation grave?

Nostalgia is a helluva drug. And Honda and the various licensees that own these characters are more than happy to dip into the nostalgia drug trade to line their own pockets with cash money. Why not? They're a car manufacturer. They want you to buy their cars. And the owners of the rights to these characters are probably desperate to make their dead (or wasting away on life support) brand relevant again on a wider scale; to the massive market they previously enjoyed. After all, none of these characters are about anything more than making money, if they ever were. Once again, I feel like Gumby wasn't always, but that's a tangent for another article.

At the end of the day, as much as 80s enthusiasts, Toy Fans and the like are eating up this fodder like it was made for them - it wasn't. No Toy Fan I know can afford a new car. They're too busy going into debt on toys.

It was made for adults on a certain income who literally haven't thought about any of these properties since they were actually kids. These ads would feel like genuine nostalgia to them.

If you never stopped obsessing over this sort of stuff, it tastes a lot less like nostalgia and more like Honda touched you in a bad place with a Robot Chicken car commercial.

And you're a chump.

You can watch them all here if you haven't already.

yr pal,


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