BBB National Programs Archive
Hey, Kids: “Wish Me Puppy” Isn’t Magic! CARU Recommends Jay at Play Modify Broadcast Ad for Hot Holiday Toy; Company Says It Will Do So
New York, NY – Dec. 19, 2018 – While hyperbole and puffery are OK in advertising aimed at adults, children cannot understand the distinction, says the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU). The group has recommended that Jay at Play, the maker of Wish Me Puppy plush toys, modify its television advertising to better convey to children that their wishes will not magically come true if they play with the toy. The company has agreed to do so. CARU director Dona J. Fraser said the organization would let Santa Claus know that Jay at Play is still on the “nice” list.
CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation that is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
CARU monitors advertising directed to children and online services for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including guidelines on Online Privacy Protection, as well as with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Wish Me Puppy is a plush toy with a bow that lights up when its nose is touched.
In reviewing the television commercial, CARU had to determine whether the advertisement created unreasonable expectations about product performance for the child audience.
In response to CARU’s inquiry, Jay at Play stated that that the use of hyperbole, fantasy, and puffery are permitted in advertising directed to children. CARU disagreed and noted that it has long held that while most adults may recognize an unrealistic promise or assertion, children may not always understand the difference between truth and hyperbole and there cannot understand advertising techniques such as puffery.
CARU also determined that while it recognizes that fantasy and imagination are an important part of children’s play, that advertisements that feature these elements should not create unattainable performance expectations.
In its advertiser’s statement, the company said it “While Jay at Play disagrees with CARU’s decision, Jay at Play modified the commercial to meet CARU’s recommendations.”