Warning! Retailers on the Holiday Prowl
Just two days before the start of the Christmas shopping season, USA Today provided parents a âtip sheet to know what to watch for to shield their kids, and themselvesâ â shielding from dastardly retailers, that is.
âIn the next few weeks, marketers will try to nudge, prod and cajole kids into buying their stuff,â the cover story teased on the front of the November 22 Money section. Reporter Bruce Horovitz did acknowledge in the story that itâs 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: âErin Willett wants Wal-Mart to kill its toy wish list website.â Willettâs children, the article said, are 4 Â˝ and 1 Â˝. The story didnât say whether the tykes did much Internet surfing or shopping.
Following Willettâs 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 âwish listâ by clicking âyesâ for toys they like.
One anti-elf complaint came from the left-wing Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. âWal-Mart is encouraging kids to nag for toys,â 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 âaim at the most susceptible target: kids.â Horovitzâs 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 âPirates of the Caribbean,â 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 Horovitzâs warning list was âFaux toy shortages,â despite the statement from a Mattel executive who said, âWe donât plan shortages âŚ All that does is make for angry consumers and disappointed customers.â