So there I was, wearing my favorite fuzzy pajama bottoms, enjoying a cup of delicious Dunkn’ Doughnuts Dark, with the crisp cool air of winter bringing in the Christmas spirit.  My coffee was piping hot as I sat down to enjoy a nice quiet afternoon of replaying my childhood Christmas classics. As I turned on the TV, I heard a familiar voice calling me to action, “Dave, you should buy a Honda.” Why it was my childhood friend and hero, Leonardo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle; Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello where there too, like a big Saturday morning reunion happening right here in my living room! What could have possibly brought my closest friends and mentors back into my home on this beautiful winter afternoon; I was perplexed to say the least.  I sat quietly, anxiously watching with excitement, as my childhood friends coaxed my interest. They wanted me to buy a Honda.


My mind filled with confusion and rage as four of my childhood heroes meticulously danced in my TV screen trying to convince me to buy a Honda during Happy Honda Days. I was taken aback at my friends using peer pressure to sell me a Honda that I did not want. These were the very same friends who had told me to stay away from bad influences and drugs merely 24 years earlier. But why, why would my friends turn on me like this? The same friends who gave me public service announcements about staying away from drugs, knowing right from wrong, and being strong enough to stand up for what I believe in, are now reduced to coercing me to buy a Honda.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles were not the only weapons in the Honda arsenal. Soon came commercials with Cabbage Patch Dolls trying to hustle a vehicle sale.  Little did my generation know that Honda was using our fondest childhood memories against us to leverage us to take out our wallets to buy a vehicle we did not want. Our childhood friends were hired by Honda to hijack me and my fellow millennials’ wallets using the attitude accessibility theory. What is this attitude accessibility theory and what does it have to do with Ninja Turtles, Cabbage Patch Dolls, and Hondas? To better understand this new tactic in the Honda arsenal, we must first look at the issue at hand; millennials do not want to buy new cars. With the most buying power in today’s market, millennials have an estimated 200 billion dollars of discretionary income to use at their leisure (when they aren’t paying off student loans or buying avocado toast). If millennials have so much buying power, why aren’t they buying new cars.

It is because of this lack of concern towards new vehicle purchases that Honda decided to give the nod to accessing our deepest childhood memories in connection to their “Happy Honda Days’” campaign. So how do our attitudes towards Ninja Turtles and Cabbage Patch dolls affect our cognitive ability to relate to an inanimate object like an SUV with third row seating and GPS on board navigation? It is easy, much like a trusted source, you know the Ninja Turtles, you trust them, because they instilled a sense of purpose and values in us millennials. The numbers show that millennials don’t need to keep up with the Joneses. Our grandparents were duped into believing that they needed a new vehicle every few years to show they are keeping up with their peers. This belief was inherited by our boomer parents, but not inherited by millennials, which is making it difficult for all vehicle companies to continuously expect to sell new vehicles at a rate they are accustomed. As the Greatest Generation ages and boomers move closer to retirement, it will be up to the Gen Xers to maintain the demand for vehicle sales. Until then, I await more attempts by car companies to tap into our ethos to drive us to another sale.

Dave Wentzel

Dave Wentzel


Dave is a strategic communicator with a passion for building solid foundations for brands and helping clients tell their story. His drive is fueled by a passion to help others reach their full potential. This blog is a platform for the opportunity to express his thoughts on industry trends, communication best practices, and to help viewers see the world as he sees. If you have any ideas on topics or thoughts for Dave to improve his communications, please feel free to connect via an email, or connect with Dave on LinkedIn at the icon below.

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