A cobalt blue Mazda CX-5 crossover SUV (26 mpg city/35 highway) coasts along a remarkably roadkill-free asphalt strip through a bucolic landscape of fluffy Truffula trees. Against an audio backdrop of chirping birds, lightly strummed strings, wistful whistling, and angelic harmonies, a narrator asks: “Who delivers outstanding fuel efficiency without compromising the joy of driving?”
A roadside forest critter — seemingly a shoddy approximation of a Bar-ba-Loot — shrugs its shoulders and turns up its hands. The Bar-ba-Loot is completely ignorant of the fact that Mazda and its SkyActiv technology are delivering its species from the ravages of global climate change, habitat loss, and mass extinction the likes of which hasn’t been seen for millions of years.
The charismatic mammals and birds of the Truffula ecosystem simply have no idea that Mazda is the only brand of carmaker to receive “The Certified Truffula Tree Seal of Approval.”
But not for long, because the Lorax, incarnated as a gruff wise-acre, doesn’t need to be told twice. He knows that if you want to combine the satisfaction of saving the planet with the unadulterated joy of cruising on twisty, traffic-free pavement, you need to drive a Mazda.
Yes, it’s come to this. Theodor Seuss Geisel’s 1971 parable about environmental stewardship is now being used to make people feel less guilty about purchasing Mazda-brand motor vehicles. The Mazda cross-promotion, it turns out, is one of 70 sponsorship deals that Universal has worked out to increase the return on its investment in a feature film version of “The Lorax.”
Not pictured in the ad: The Truffula tree forest that was clear-cut to make way for the four-lane highway the Once-ler built to sell more Thneeds. (Today Mazda CX-5 owners use that highway to get to their outrageously wasteful, greenhouse gas-spewing subdivisions.)
Absent from Universal’s cross-promotions: The hard-to-commodify solutions like walkable neighborhoods, bicycle-safe streets, and transit-oriented development that we’re going to need in order to avert catastrophic climate change.
“The Lorax” debuts on March 2, which would be Dr. Seuss’s 108th birthday if he were still alive. Already there are rumblings of a nationwide boycott.