In a season that inspires earnest letters about toys, one notable batch is being sent not by kids to Santa’s workshop but by parents to the executive suites of real-world toy makers.
The message: Please, in these days of economic angst, cut back on marketing your products directly to our children.
By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer
The letter-writing initiative was launched by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which says roughly 1,400 of its members and supporters have contacted 24 leading toy companies and retailers to express concern about ads aimed at kids.
Jessica Luu, left, looks for deals as her friend’s baby, Kaylee Oliver, inspects a toy in the shopping cart, as shoppers at Toys ‘R’ Us at The Forum at Olympia Parkway in Selma, Texas look for the best savings on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2008.(AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Bob Owen)
“Unfortunately, I will not be able to purchase many of the toys that my sons have asked for; we simply don’t have the money,” wrote Todd Helmkamp of Hudson, Ind. “By bombarding them with advertisements … you are placing parents like me in the unenviable position of having to tell our children that we can’t afford the toys you promote.”
The Toy Industry Association has responded with a firm defense of current marketing practices, asserting that children “are a vital part of the gift selection process.”
“If children are not aware of what is new and available, how will they be able to tell their families what their preferences are?” an industry statement said. “While there is certainly greater economic disturbance going on now, families have always faced different levels of economic well-being and have managed to tailor their spending to their means.”