Warning! Retailers on the Holiday Prowl
Just two days before the start of the Christmas shopping season, USA Today provided parents a â€śtip sheet to know what to watch for to shield their kids, and themselvesâ€ť â€“ shielding from dastardly retailers, that is.
â€śIn the next few weeks, marketers will try to nudge, prod and cajole kids into buying their stuff,â€ť the cover story teased on the front of the November 22 Money section. Reporter Bruce Horovitz did acknowledge in the story that itâ€™s parents who have to buy the toys â€“ but took aim at retailers, accusing them of causing children to nag.
Horovitz supplied an angry parent: â€śErin Willett wants Wal-Mart to kill its toy wish list website.â€ť Willettâ€™s children, the article said, are 4 Â˝ and 1 Â˝. The story didnâ€™t say whether the tykes did much Internet surfing or shopping.
Following Willettâ€™s quote were three other negative quotes about the Wal-Mart site, which is geared toward kids and features animated elves showing off toys. Kids can compile a â€śwish listâ€ť by clicking â€śyesâ€ť for toys they like.
One anti-elf complaint came from the left-wing Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. â€śWal-Mart is encouraging kids to nag for toys,â€ť the paper quoted the co-founder of CCFC, Susan Linn. That organization also has advocated the regulation of cereal company Web sites, as the Business & Media Institute previously reported.
The article demonized retailers for taking â€śaim at the most susceptible target: kids.â€ť Horovitzâ€™s warning list included six ways he claimed stores were targeting kids, such as Web sites, television advertising placement, toys that are linked to popular culture such as â€śPirates of the Caribbean,â€ť Bus Radio advertising, and books marketed with stuffed animals or bracelets.
USA Today also accused toy manufacturers like Mattel of planning toy shortages. No. 5 on Horovitzâ€™s warning list was â€śFaux toy shortages,â€ť despite the statement from a Mattel executive who said, â€śWe donâ€™t plan shortages â€¦ All that does is make for angry consumers and disappointed customers.â€ť