Senator stops Toyota from ridiculing Fresno

November 13, 2007 

FRESNO -- Toyota Motor Corp. pulled an ad that likened Fresno to an outdated pit stop after California Sen. Dianne Feinstein wrote the car company to complain.

The commercial depicted people driving the fuel-efficient Prius in an imagined future in which "gas stations will become nothing more than low-budget tourist stops. Like ghost towns ... or Fresno."

That slap got no mileage with Mayor Alan Autry, who asked Feinstein to intervene. Friday, Toyota officials recalled the spot produced for auto dealers in the Southeast, and edited out any mention of the San Joaquin Valley's largest city.

City Councilman Henry Perea said he'd forgive Toyota if the automaker opened a Prius factory in Fresno.

The controversy reminded some in Modesto of another TV ad in the early 1980s.

When Oregon-based beer brewer Henry Weinhard's expanded operations into California, it ran an ad depicting two deliverymen driving into the state.

The younger man looks around bewildered, exclaiming, "L.A. sure is big." His older companion responds dryly, "This is Modesto."

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