CARU Recommends Playmates Discontinue Toy Ad

1/13/2010

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New York, NY – Jan. 13, 2010 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CARU) has determined that advertising by Playmates Toys, Inc. for certain “Star Trek” toys did not adequately disclose material information and recommended the advertising at issue be discontinued.

CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined broadcast and Internet advertising for Playmates Toys’ “Transporter Room Playset,” “Bridge Playset,”and the “U.S.S.
Enterprise” vehicle. The advertising came to the attention of CARU pursuant to CARU’s routine monitoring of advertising directed to children.

The broadcast advertising featured a close-up shot of three action figures (Scotty, Kirk and Spock), and the Transporter Room Playset. The Scotty action figure sat at a desk, as the Kirk stood in a tube, waiting to be “beamed up.” A child’s hands manipulated the Scotty figure, which pushed a button on the control panel, making blue lights appear. The Kirk figure disappeared and then reappeared in an elaborate outdoor setting with additional action figures. A second shot, in fastmotion, featured the Bridge Playset accessorized with additional equipment as the announcer stated, “Each galaxy figure comes with its own piece of the Enterprise Bridge.” The commercial’s final shot featured eight action figures and three separate products: the Bridge, the Transporter, and the U.S.S. Enterprise Vehicle. The announcer quickly stated, “Star Trek figures, vehicles, Bridge
Transporter and U.S.S. Enterprise each sold separately.”

Upon review, CARU was concerned that children might be misled about what is included in the initial purchase of the products and questioned whether the commercial adequately disclosed that the
Enterprise playset requires batteries in order to function as shown and that the Transporter and the Bridge require assembly to be used as shown.

In response to CARU’s initial inquiry, Playmates noted that the planned run of the broadcast advertising was complete. The advertiser stated that it did not fully agree with CARU’s initial
concerns and argued that the commercial did indicate that all products are sold separately in an audio voice-over at the end of the commercial.

However, to fully address CARU’s concerns, the company noted that it had removed the commercial from the Playmates Corporate Website. In addition, Playmates committed to discontinue use of the
commercial on television.

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it will “continue to take CARU’s focus areas into consideration for future commercial production.

CARU's inquiry was conducted under NAD/CARU/NARB Procedures for the Voluntary Self-Regulation of National Advertising. Details of the initial inquiry, CARU's decision, and the advertiser's response will be included in the next NAD/CARU Case Report.

About Advertising Industry Self-Regulation
The National Advertising Review Council (NARC) was formed in 1971 by the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies, Inc. (AAAA), the American
Advertising Federation, Inc. (AAF), and the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (CBBB). Its purpose is to foster truth and accuracy in national advertising through voluntary self-regulation. NARC is the body that establishes the policies and procedures for the CBBB’s National Advertising Division (NAD) and Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), as well as for the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) and Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP).

NAD and CARU are the investigative arms of the advertising industry’s voluntary self-regulation program. Their casework results from competitive challenges from other advertisers, and also from self-monitoring traditional and new media. The National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appeals body, is a peer group from which ad-hoc panels are selected to adjudicate those cases that are not resolved at the NAD/CARU level. This unique, self-regulatory system is funded entirely by the business community; CARU is financed by the children’s advertising industry, while NAD/NARC/NARB’s sole source of funding is derived from membership fees paid to the CBBB. Funding for ERSP is derived from membership fees paid to the
Electronic Retailing Association. For more information about advertising self regulation, please visit www.narcpartners.org.
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