CCFC Members Talk Back to the Toy Industry

On October 27, 2008 CCFC sent a letter to the CEOs of twenty-four toy manufacturers and retailers calling for a moratorium on holiday advertising targeted to children.  We also asked CCFC members and supporters to send letters as well.  While they had the option of sending a prewritten letter, many were so concerned that they took the time to personalize their messages.  Excerpts of these emails are below:

"With the global economic crisis intensifying, many families will have to scale back their holiday shopping this year. Mine is no exception. All four of my siblings are out of work -- formerly each of us had 6-figure jobs with which we supported our own children and together, our retired parents and grandparents. It's wrong to create unrealistic expectations in children or to foment family stress by encouraging kids to lobby for gifts. It also teaches them material items are essential to family happiness -- which they aren't." ~L. W., Lombard, IL

"Help me understand why your toy is the better one for my child, and why it should be one of the few I can afford. Don't leave that up to my children. My four-year old doesn't understand why he can't have everything, while I try to keep my eight-year  old (who knows that Christmas will be slim) from feeling guilty for wanting the latest fad." ~Erin C., Columbus, OH

"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. And 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." ~Todd H., Hudson, IN

"We will be watching during the advertising season to see how you market your items... market to my kids - you won't find your item under the tree at all." ~Heather W., Russellville, AR

"I fully understand that this same economic crisis is causing consternation in corporate America - with fewer dollars being spent, how do you ensure that those dollars come to you? Be different by being moral." ~J. H., Jonesboro, AR

"As a school social worker, I deal with families every day who are losing their homes, losing use of utilities, foregoing medications, and living without food... The upcoming holiday season only makes parents feel more inadequate in the sense that they will be forced to choose life-sustaining basics over gifts and toys this year." ~Amanda A., Stoney Creek, NC
 
"As a single mother with four young children, I find advertising to children very debilitating. The constant wants put increasing pressure on me to provide things for them that are simply instantly gratifying. I currently am working full time to ensure that I can provide my children with a good education, something that they will be unable to appreciate until they are much older...The more my children harass me for particular products, the less likely I am going to give in to them." ~Genevieve L., Curtin, Australia
 
"At holiday time, I put stricter limits on my kids' TV-watching. So many ads pander to kids and mislead them... these ads promote thoughtless greed in children, and we parents are left rebuilding the worldview we've worked so hard at over the year." ~Mary M., Cedar Falls, IA

"Already, manufacturers have really damaged the relationship of parents to their children...Parents WANT to give their children gifts, but only they really know what they can afford. Children must learn that caring is not measured in costly toys."  ~Anne H., El Paso, TX

"When I was a child I thought my family was poor because there were so many things that we didn't have. We were actually doing very well, but because I was always bombarded by commercials of things I didn't have, I assumed we were poor." ~Alicia N., CA
 
"Parents are dealing with enough financial stress right now; they do not need to have toy companies and marketers adding to that stress by creating a situation in which children feel they must have items that their families can in no way afford." ~Leigh D., San Jose, CA
 
"Let parents take the lead to ask their children's opinion about what they want. Parents do not just blindly buy stuff that we think our kids will like. No one is trying to silence the voices and opinions of our children here. We ask them, and talk to them and find out what is best. However, the intense, relentless marketing to children has a hugely negative effect on what is actually developmentally appropriate and decent for children." ~Anna P., Minneapolis, MN

"I have no problem with a company's right to market a product. My problem is with your target. Obviously, I can (and do) prohibit my kids from ads precisely because the people in marketing departments think the way that you do... My kids do not demand or expect things they want; they can only hope that their parents choose gifts accordingly.  I will have to forage without your help, because you think marketing to parents to be less effective...but if your product is good, convince ME!" ~Janet R., Arlington, VA

"Parents are the best judge of which toys will excite their children... Advertisements aimed at children often do not depict the toy as it is sold and most children fail to read the small print found at the bottom of those advertisements....To me, a toy maker afraid to advertise to the parents is only admitting they have nothing of value to sell to my family and need to resort to tricking my children with fancy graphics and false promises." ~Kathleen P., North Attleboro, MA

"As a school social worker, I deal with families every day who are losing their homes, losing use of utilities, foregoing medications, and living without food. More families than I ever expected have been touched by the current economic crisis, meaning more children are living without basic necessities. The upcoming holiday season only makes parents feel more inadequate in the sense that they will be forced to choose life-sustaining basics over gifts and toys this year. The pressure is already on as children are viewing the advertisements and begging their parents for items that the family truly cannot afford." ~Amanda, A., Stoney Creek, NC

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