March 6, 2012

The Lorax Sells Mazda SUV's But Doesn't Drive

The animated film THE LORAX broke box office records with its 70M plus opening over the weekend.  There is no doubt that's because it's based on a well-loved Dr. Seuss book from the 1970s which is about conservation and environmental activism.  But it surely helped that the cute orange Lorax had so many tie-in's and cross-promotions with everything from fast food joints to car makers.

One of the more egregious examples of this sort of promotion that has become standard for children's films is an unusual partnership with Mazda.  An article in yesterday's Washington POST explains how the company donated 1K to elementary schools across the country to enhance their reading programs and libraries in exchange for showing off Lorax-themed SUV's.  Mazda even went a little further by encouraging the kids to convince their parents to do a test drive of the CX-5 to score a $25 dollar donation to the NEA.

While corporate giving especially to educational organizations is to be lauded, getting children involved in their shill game seems to be pushing it.  Also, the irony factor of the Lorax-approved SUV seems to have been lost on Mazda, which has labeled the car as having "Truffula Tree-approved SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY".  Whatever the hell that is, my guess is it has little do with saving trees.  Fortunately, today's marketing-saturated kids seem savvy to all this. As one youngster at a Virginia school put it, "The Lorax doesn't drive a car."

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