BBB National Programs Archive
CARU Reviews Advertising for Ideavillage ‘Pocket Racers,’ Company Says Future Advertising Will Comply with Recommendations
New York, NY – April 4, 2017 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) has recommended Ideavillage Products Corporation, in future advertising, feature products that are available at retail, accurately disclose how the product performs and make any material disclosures in audio format. The company has agreed to do so.
CARU, an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation, monitors advertising directed to children in all media and across all platforms. CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
A two minute commercial for Pocket Racers came to CARU’s attention through CARU’s routine monitoring of advertising directed to children.
CARU questioned whether the vehicles could operate as depicted and requested that Ideavillage provide examples of the product for CARU’s review.
In response to CARU’s inquiry, the advertiser acknowledged that the product as it was shown in the commercial was a prototype and never available for sale. Ideavillage asserted that the intent of this commercial was to gauge children’s interest through a one-week test run of the commercial. Further, the advertiser explained that any product that it could provide to CARU would be a new version of the product, distinct from the prototype, and would not be the same packaging or car as shown in the referenced commercial. The advertiser stated that it was currently redesigning product for a retail rollout with a projected date of November 2016.
When determining whether an advertisement leaves a misleading impression, CARU assesses how a child in the intended audience would interpret the message and where no consumer perception evidence is supplied by the advertiser, CARU routinely steps into the shoes of the child-targeted audience and uses its experienced judgment to determine the reasonable messages conveyed.
In this case of first impression, CARU determined that one reasonable take away message was that the toy depicted in the commercial was available for sale.
CARU noted in its decision that the commercial did not inform viewers that the product was not available and, in fact, the commercial provided instructions on ordering the cars. Further, the commercial didn’t disclose that the product in the commercial would be different from the product eventually available for sale.
Following its review, CARU determined that the practice of featuring a prototype in a commercial where no identical product exists at retail was in violation of CARU’s guidelines.
Further, CARU determined that in the absence of any substantiation for its performance claims – that the product could, move easily at high speeds, perform tricks, steer precisely and produce sounds – the claims were misleading. CARU recommended that the commercial be discontinued until the advertiser has an actual product and has substantiation for all its claims.
CARU further recommended that Ideavillage, in future advertising, feature products that are available at retail, accurately disclose how the product performs and make any material disclosures in audio format.
Ideavillage, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “supports the efforts of CARU to ensure appropriate advertising to children, and it makes every effort to ensure that it conforms to the CARU guidelines. Ideavillage agrees to comply with CARU’s recommendations in future advertising. While Ideavillage disagrees with certain of CARU’s recommendations in this matter, it will take those recommendations into account in future advertising.”