BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends Mattel Modify TV Advertising for ‘Sofia the First Royal Prep Academy’ to Better Disclose What Comes with Initial Purchase

New York, NY – June 10, 2015, 2015 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that Mattel, Inc., modify broadcast advertising for the company’s “Sofia The First Royal Prep Academy” playset to more clearly disclose the toys included with the initial purchase of the product.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

“Sofia the First,” is the star of an animated Disney television series. A 15-second commercial for Mattel-made Sofia products opened with the  shot of a Sofia the First action figure and Clover, her bunny companion, standing in front of the Academy, Sofia’s school. Sofia and Clover are included with the initial playset purchase.

The commercial also featured Sofia with other characters from show, including headmistress fairies, Crackle the Dragon, Sofia’s sister Amber, and Minimus, Sofia’s pet flying horse. Those characters are sold separately, as part of a “Figure Pack.”

CARU noted in its decision that the integration of the figures into the commercial may lead to potential confusion about what comes with the playset’s initial purchase, despite an audio disclosure that stated: “Magical Royal Academy set and figure pack each sold separately.  Adult assembly required … .”

Following its review, CARU found that the compound disclosure was brief and hard to understand. CARU noted that, given the short length of the commercial and the confusing nature of the compound disclosure, children could reasonably take away the message that all figures depicted were included with the initial purchase. CARU recommended that a clear and prominent audio disclosure regarding what comes with the initial purchase, separate from the disclosure “Assembly Required,” be added to the commercial’s final shot.

Mattel, in its advertiser’s statement, said that the while company did not agree with CARU’s decision in this case, “we will continue to keep CARU’s concerns and guidelines in mind as we develop new commercials.”