BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends Mattel More Clearly Disclose Contents Of ‘Toy Story’ Playset

New York, NY – April 5, 2010 –The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that Mattel, Inc., modify broadcast advertising for the “Toy Story Pop-Open Playworld Storable Playset” and “Buddy Pack,” to better disclose which items come with each purchase.

Television advertising for the Mattel products came to the attention of CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, through CARU’s routine monitoring of advertising directed to children. 

The 30-second commercial at issue featured two children, the playset and additional action figures. A voice over stated, “Oh no, Buzz and Woody are caught in the claw in Pizza Planet,”  as accompanying video showed the Buzz figure hanging from a crane and five alien action figures on the ground. 

The commercial’s closing shot showed the Playset in the background and 17 action figures in the foreground. The announcer stated, “Toy Story Pop Open Play World, Buddy Packs each sold separately.”

The Playset includes two action figures: Buzz Lightyear and Scud.  The Buddy Packs contain either two or three action figures depending upon which set is purchased.

After reviewing the advertisement and all of the evidence in this record, CARU determined that child viewers may not understand how many action figures are available with purchase of the Playset. In reaching its decision, CARU noted that the bulk of the commercial followed two young boys as they played with Buzz Light Year, Woody, Five Aliens and Scud.

CARU further noted that it is common in children’s advertising to show playsets with additional figures that are sold separately and that children are accustomed to seeing the play value of a main set extended with additional purchases.   However, to avoid confusion, CARU consistently advises advertisers to clearly disclose information about products purchased separately, such as accessories or individual items in a collection.  

Mattel, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “is a long-time supporter of CARU and appreciates the opportunity to participate in the self-regulatory process.  The media flight for this commercial has ended and there are no plans to air the ad again in the future.  We thank CARU for their leadership in a meaningful self-regulatory program and will take CARU’s concerns into account for future advertisements.”