BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends Playmates Discontinue Certain Advertising For ‘Star Trek’ Toys

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 fast-motion, 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.