When I first wrote this article in 2006, I played with the titles of “Surprise Honey, I Decided to Postpone Our Retirement” and the much more boring “I Still Don’t Like Lexus’ Holiday Commercials.” I finally settled on, “Surprise Honey, I Added $60,000 to our Debt!” Instead of all that, I went with the obvious this time.
I’m bringing this article back up because Saturday Night Live recently did a commercial around the same theme. It’s hilarious! Give it a watch:
There’s a reason why my article is a bunch of text on a page and SNL’s is a comedic masterpiece that has the internet buzzing. They covered all my feelings and added some extra crazy for good measure.
In 2006, I thought that Lexus would get canceled due to a deluge of bad optics of a commercial campaign suggesting that giving a Lexus for Christmas is a good surprise. Maybe cancel culture wasn’t a thing then. I had also assumed that they either didn’t test market their commercial or that I was in the vocal minority. I can’t say which is more correct. Since they still have the campaign, it has to be working for them. However, there are mainstream parodies about how idiotic the concept is. Honda roasted them badly with this one:
Honda Commercial – "Car Gift" from Thought Division on Vimeo.
I hadn’t realized that Lexus’ December to Remember campaign started back in 1999. I wasn’t blogging about how to FIRE back then, so I may have just given it the stink eye and moved on. In any case, the 2006 commercial started off with the husband calling his wife and lying to her about being stuck at work. If you know you are going to be controversial, I guess a white lie to your wife isn’t too bad, but you’d think they could come up with something better. The wife leaves the house to pick up their kid at sports practice and there’s a new Lexus with a bow waiting in the driveway.
In 2006, I imagined the reaction my wife would give if I did something like that. I would surely be in the dog house. Guess what, in 2020 it’s still the same! It might even be worse of a dog house now with responsibilities like our two kids.
There are normal Christmas gifts and there’s giving one that’s 50% more than what the average household earns in a year. The only way I could ever get away with a Lexus for a gift is if I also announced that I made a million dollars earlier in the day. Since that million dollars would be around $600,000 after taxes, I might be able to get away with using 10% of it for an extravagant toy. However, even that is stretching it. My wife would much rather quit her job and take at least a year trying to decide what to do for a second act.
Is there a circumstance where you would consider a $60,000 purchase without discussing it with your significant other? Let me know in the comments below?
Further Reading: Annual Rant: Cars are NOT Gifts. She alerted me to the awesome Honda commercial mentioned above.
P.S. I originally linked to a Lexus’ Flash page at: http://www.lexus.com/promo/flash/dse/DSE_LandingPage.swf so you can watch the commercial itself. Obviously, Lexus doesn’t still have that page up. Back then, Google had just bought a company called YouTube the month before. I remember laughing at their terrible decision to pay so much money for a website that didn’t make any money and cost so much money in bandwidth to run.
Originally Published 11/27/2006 – (Image Source)