Busloads of Wishes at Toys "R" Us

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Granted, this video has been circulating the web for well over a month now. And my mistake for not highlighting it here earlier. But if there is ever a time to look at the manipulative powers and unsustainable practices of Toys “R” Us, the holiday shopping season is it. Many of you may have already sat there wide-eyed and slack-jawed as you watched this commercial but if you missed it, you’re in for a real treat.

A production company, in collaboration with a couple youth organizations and Toys “R” Us, took a busload of adorable children on a field trip to a store owned by the nearly $14 billion company. They were told they could play with all the toys and pick out anything they wanted. Talk about philanthropy!

Fine, whatever, kids like toys and it's wonderful to help those in need. But where this thing gets offensive is when the children are informed that, despite what they’ve been told, they are not actually going on the boring ol’ field trip to the forest. “Today we’re taking some kids on the best field trip they could wish for, and they don’t even know it,” exclaims the actor dressed up as a Toys “R” Us spokesperson in a park ranger disguise. Then a group of fairly indifferent children board a green bus that has been painted to read “Meet The Trees Foundation.” The commercial then begins to mock nature and education by playing, what they consider to be, an incredibly boring game of “Name that Leaf”. Children yawn and have that this-is-the-last-place-in-the-world-I-want-to-be look on their faces. Already the insinuation that nature is boring and lame is blatant.

That’s until our actor/spokesperson/ranger pulls over and says to the malleable young minds, “You know what I like more than trees?. . . I like toys.” He rips off his forest ranger uniform and everyone lights up and cheers when they realize they are going to Toys “R” Us rather than the forest. Scratch that, they are completely freaking out with excitement. So now, not only has the commercial mocked nature and belittled it into a boring chore, but now they’ve taught children that plastic toys are prioritized above the natural world and that there is no fun to be had in nature.

What kind of values is this teaching future generations? It is harmful on so many levels. These are not habits that can be easily broken later in life and they are certainly standards that carry over into adulthood. But according to the commercial, “It was magical.”

Sure, it was well produced and clever and full of sweet smiling children. But teaching children to value plastic goods over trees is disgusting. We should be working like crazy to create future generations that appreciate the natural world and fight against consumerism. And the holiday season is just one big teachable moment. So let’s teach them what really matters.

But at least we're not alone in thinking this. Check out Lindsay Abrams' article for Salon.com, the UpaDowna piece from Randi Hitchcock, and the November 6 Colbert Report

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How much shame?
Misdemeanor
7
Felony

Lynsey worked as an Associate Producer for the documentary GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth and continues her work with Citizen-Powered Media today. She believes that, with continued support, Growth Bias Busted can have a huge impact on journalism concerning environmental, social, and economic issues. She lives in Austin, Texas by way of Berkeley, CA.

Comments

  • Dave Gardner
    Dave Gardner Thursday, 12 December 2013

    This video shows how utterly clueless entire teams of people can be about the destructive and unsustainable nature of our consumption-based, growth-obsesses system. When you are enmeshed in it, when you're responsible for revenue growth, or it's your job to conceive advertising campaigns that drive sales, you rarely step back and ask if this really makes sense.

  • Guest
    piyush Thursday, 12 December 2013

    It is really a pity that the marketing machine targets children and indoctrinates them to this mad culture of endless consumption from birth to death. I signed petition on change.org related to this, I encourage visitors on this site to sign it if they haven't already:
    https://www.change.org/petitions/toys-r-us-let-s-show-toys-r-us-what-actually-matters-to-us

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