Alright, alright, I admit, they are just commercials. But among the various objectives of advertising, one is to incite action on the part of potential customers. In the last week or so, a Toyota campaign has been airing in our market. The Toyotathon Phenomenon! In each commercial, the owner of a vehicle sets about, literally, to destroy his/her own car. In one commercial, a man operating a crane “accidentally” drops a huge steel “I” beam on his truck. In another, a man on a ferry ties a line attached to the dock to the hitch on his truck. As the ferry leaves the dock, the truck, which is parked on the stern of the ferry, is yanked into the water and sinks. In the third commercial, a family pushes a boulder off a cliff, which subsequently crushes their SUV parked below. In each of these commercials, the owners, sheepishly look to see if their efforts have been successful and then they look around to see if they have been detected. Here is a fourth in the series that has been playing in another part of the US (where they understand snow plows).
I will grant you that the commercials are clever. The voice over announcer suggests something to the effect that “now is the time to buy that Toyota you always wanted,… or NEEDED.” I am not intimating in any way that Toyota is expressly advocating people undertake acts of insurance fraud in an effort to get a new car. And if you listen carefully, you can hear the denials coming from Toyota HQ and that humor was the only intent of the ads…humor sells! Okay, I’ll agree with the humor angle. However, even if veiled in humor, fraud is precisely what the ads are inadvertently communicating. And while its not fraud foisted upon an insurance carrier, it is fraud in the form of self-deception. In other words, fraudulently exchanging the want of a new car into a need.
Don’t we do the same thing with regard to disobedience? We rationalize behavior, and by self-deception call it something else. But disobedient conduct is nothing more than sinful self-indulgence. And there is nothing funny about that!