BBB National Programs Archive


New York, NY – April 10, 2012  – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus has recommended that Playmobil modify broadcast advertising for the Grand Mansion Dollhouse to assure child viewers better understand what toys are included in each purchase.

Broadcast advertising for the dollhouse came to the attention of CARU, the advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, through CARU’s monitoring of advertising directed to children.

The dollhouse comes with three floors, two staircases, one mirror, one clock, one pot of flowers, one box of flowers, one male figurine and one female figurine. Additional sets are available to decorate the house including, Grand Kitchen, Grand Ballroom, Parents Bedroom, Comfortable Living Room, Boy and Girl Room, Baby Room, Grand Dining Room, Mansion Fencing, Floor Extensions and Lighting Sets. These additional sets and figurines are not included with the initial purchase of the dollhouse and must be purchased separately. Two 1.5 Volt-AAA batteries are required to operate the dollhouse lights and doorbell. Batteries are not included and must be purchased separately as well.

The broadcast advertising featured two children playing with a fully furnished dollhouse with working lights. A child’s voiceover stated: “It’s beautiful! So many rooms! A grand playroom! A master bedroom and balcony! Lights that work! And two grand staircases! It’s so grand!”

The final island shot of the product featured packaging for the dollhouse, along with two unidentifiable, additional sets. During the closing shot, an adult voiceover stated: “The grand mansion dollhouse from Playmobil. Each set sold separately.”

There was no disclosure stating that batteries were not included with initial purchase.

Following its review, CARU determined that the commercial did not clearly communicate what comes with an initial purchase of the product. In reaching its decision, CARU noted that a large portion of the commercial features the dollhouse in use with several additional sets, each of which must be purchased separately. Although CARU acknowledged that it is not uncommon in children’s advertising to show additional items that are sold separately, CARU has consistently required advertisers to clearly disclose which items must be purchased separately.

Playmobil modified the advertising in November to include a disclosure regarding batteries. The advertising at issue has since completed its run.

Playmobil, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “has always been committed to producing quality products and correctly representing our toys in our packaging and advertising.  Our commitment to clarity is evidenced by the manner in which all package components are always shown on the back of every box.  Playmobil has always and will continue to market our toys according to all laws and guidelines and appreciates the input of caring organizations like CARU.”