Pester power, the advertising practice of using the nagging abilities of children to sell candy and toys is known and feared by most parents worldwide. 

But what happens when elementary school children are targeted by an automaker in order to pester their parents into taking a test drive? 

Enter Mazda, whose latest marketing campaign for the 2013 CX-5 crossover SUV has entered schools to get kids pestering their parents for a ride.

Last week we reported that the automaker had signed a deal with Universal pictures to use the recently-released 3D animation of The Lorax, Dr. Seuss’s 1971 tale warning of the consequences of destroying the natural world, to help it advertise its high gas-mileage crossover. 

In return for using the cutesy Lorax in its animated TV ad, Mazda agreed to donate $1 million to the National Education Association’s Read Across America Program. 

That’s where we thought it ended. 

2013 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover on test drive, Southern California, Nov 2011

2013 Mazda CX-5 compact crossover on test drive, Southern California, Nov 2011

But as The Washington Post details, Mazda is taking it one step further, a move that has attracted condemnation nationwide.

“At Polk Elementary on Tuesday, more than 100 kindergarteners and fourth- and fifth-graders crowded into the multipurpose room for a rendition of Seuss’s classic environmentalist tale,” wrote Emma Brown.

Brown then described how a Mazda representative stood up, and told the children how they could help raise money for their school, winning  a sweepstakes entry trip to Universal Studios in the process. 

“All they had to do was persuade their parents to go to the nearest Mazda dealership for a test-drive,” Brown wrote. “For every person who test-drives a car -- and brings in a special certificate, which students received at school Tuesday -- Mazda will donate $25 to the NEA’s foundation for public schools.”

That’s not all. As part of the visit, including the obligatory actor-in-a-Lorax-costume, each child was given a close-up look at a 2013 Mazda CX-5. 

Appropriately wrapped with scenes from The Lorax movie, of course. 

While we initially thought The Lorax TV ad spot, along with the  concept of donating money to school reading programs seemed charitable, we’re now not so sure. 

And that’s a shame, because we think the Mazda CX-5 has enough merits to sell itself without relying on pester power.

But what do you think?

Let us know in the Comments below.


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