Frenetic Fitness

fre·net·ic /frəˈnetɪk/ done very fast and with a lot of energy, often by someone who is in a hurry.

You Fail, Toys R Us

Last night we were sitting still long enough to watch a 30 minute sitcom. Normally we try to skip right through the commercial breaks but for some reason we were watching when an ad came on showing a school bus with Meet the Trees Foundation on the side. A guy in a uniform I suppose was meant to resemble a generic park employee ensemble is at the front of the bus showing flash cards of leaves to a group of kids who look like they’d rather be cleaning their rooms than be on that bus going to visit the trees. Then fake Park Ranger man shouts that it’s just a ruse, the bus is going to Toys “R” Us.  And the bus erupts with cheers.
My husband and I sat there in stunned silence for a moment. I think our mouths were hanging open in anticipation of the tirade about to spill out from the anger this ad sparked in our bellies. How dare a toy store that sells a load of plastic crap made in China imply that nature is boring and should be avoided in favor of video games and fluorescent lighting! Your message, dear corporate conglomerate of pavement, parking lots and plastic crap, is just one example of why our kids are overweight and undereducated about the world around them. You are feeding a generation of young ones a plate full of empty ideals, encouraging the apathy that leads to the pollution of, destruction of and lack of connection with nature. In short Toys R Us, you suck. The goal of a good advertising campaign is to set trends, to tell people what is cool and hip. You’re telling kids that Mother Nature is the outcast kid, the one that no one talks to or sits with or picks for teams. She’s the kid that the school bully trips in the cafeteria. She’s so uncool, that you rejoice when you’re told you don’t “have” to play with her or invite her to your birthday party. Shame on you.


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30 thoughts on “You Fail, Toys R Us

  1. I would have respected Toys R Us if they pulled a Cookie Monster: advocate for playing outside in nature, and treating their products as a “sometimes toy” the same way Cookie Monster (clearly an addict) now calls cookies a “sometimes food”.

  2. Ryan Waning on said:

    I agree, but only to a certain extent. The job of advertisers is to sell their products. This is undeniable fact.The job of parents is to raise smart and savvy enough kids who know what advertising is and what it is supposed to do. Talk to your kid after watching such a BS laden commercial instead of burying your head in your laptop and writing an outraged blog.

    • Wow Ryan. Guess you haven’t bothered to check to see if I ever write about being outside with my kids instead of being buried in my laptop.

      • Ryan Waning on said:

        I didn’t ask if you take your kids outside, I asked if you talked to them. A simple conversation from time to time could help you avoid the pass-the-buck style of parenting you seem to champion with a blog entry like this. Shame on Toys R Us? No, Lisa, shame on you and all of the other blame sharing-type parents out there.

    • Ryan, I respected your comments until the last sentence, which was demeaning and downright rude.

      • Ryan Waning on said:

        Rude, sure. Reading it back, it does come off like that and, for that, I do apologize. I was simply using the language of the blog (and it’s final sentence) to tie up my response. But it’s only demeaning if you take it as such. It would be akin to someone calling me fat. It only demeans me if I think I’m fat, right? Intention can be diffused by perspective.

    • It is easy to see why a parent who had worked to teach her child to value the outdoors would be angry about an ad that seeks to undo her diligent work by claiming nature was boring and uncool. Toys-R-Us tried to undo her work, so it seems fine for her to try to undo a bit of theirs.

    • Ryan,

      If I were you, I would keep my thoughts to myself.

  3. While I’m not taking away your hate for Toys R Us by any means, I beg to differ on your statement that “The goal of a good advertising campaign is to set trends, to tell people what is cool and hip.” The ultimate goal of a good advertising campaign — is to make sales, so why fault a company for keeping themselves in business, and their employees working when so many are not these days? Instead of spending so much time hating on TRU and how somehow through one holiday commercial they’re encouraging kids to bully, why don’t you channel it to appeal to Learning Express to step up their advertising efforts and show how learning is MORE cool? BTW, those video games you’re also hating on — in moderation — also teach kids, they also teach kids to be more social, make decisions faster, and deal with failures more readily. If you look at the research, even surgeons are shown to be more effective if they also play video games.

    It sounds as though you’re passionate about nature, and I don’t disagree with you that they could have picked something other than the great outdoors to juxtaposition against a free-for-all in a toy store, but wow. Let’s not be so bitter about a company who’s helping keep our economy afloat. There are a ton of companies that have idiotic commercials that miss the mark, but a parents job is to parent not to leave kids in front of the TV. One company’s commercial is hardly the unraveling of America. I’d love to see your passion focused on something positive. I bet you could do really great things.

  4. Oh, whatever. YES, it’s the job of parents to teach children to value the outdoors. YES, it’s the job of parents to teach children to be intelligent consumers of both advertising and the products that advertising represents. BUT IT IS ALSO the right of parents to complain amongst ourselves about companies and organizations who fail miserably at promoting things in the best interests of EVERYBODY’s children.

    Look at this, Ryan Waning. Lisa is a good mom who has raised her (nearly adult) daughter to value the outdoors. I’m a year or two behind her but I hope I’ve done the same. It’s ok for both of us, at this point, give other parents a big fat heads up when a major retailer makes what we consider a huge error in judgement.

  5. Ryan Waning on said:

    They didn’t make an error in judgement. Toys r Us wants to sell TOYS not the outdoors. Should Pepsi shill orange juice in the ads because Pepsi isn’t good for you but OJ is? Of course not. Not their row to hoe. If you don’t want your kids to drink Pepsi, you let them know that it’s filled with sugar and empty calories. The same logic applies here.

    As far as your other idea, Aly, your “right to complain” is allowed, but it’s certainly not justified. All it does is add to the level of white noise that people have to work to tune out to figure out what messages they get from media (like this blog) are worth their time to consider.

    I’m glad that Lisa has raised her daughter to near adulthood with a strong love of the outdoors. I just hope that when she sets her spawn free in the world, she has a bit more independence that her mother and doesn’t simply pass the buck on simple to rectify “problems” like this petty little Toys R Us ad.

  6. Arguing isn’t useful here. Ryan, feel free to spend your day criticizing other individuals who do positive things. Lisa, thanks for being a top-notch mom, and thanks for letting me know about an advertising campaign that is in conflict with my own values as a parent. Aly over and out.

    • Ryan Waning on said:

      You’re right. I’d hate to be accused of bullying with logic. And that’s the way this seems to be trending. Good luck, saviors of the world’s youth. Keep fighting the good fight…or rather blogging the good blog.

  7. There is a difference between “white noise” complaining, and raising awareness. Think of all the ads aimed at young women that teach them that their value is in their physical appearance. Or the ads that perpetrate everyday sexism, or any number of social ills. Developing brains are especially vulnerable to messages, and many parents may not be aware of the damage that they can do. It is a boon to us all that little snips like these raise the consciousness of parents and young adults to the media messaging they are exposed to. Child Psychology is a huge part of advertising, and they are incredibly successful at suggestion, and not just through TV spots. Even if I speak with a child, and have no TV, that child will still be exposed to a number of adverts throughout the day. Also, little things like this help raise the consciousness of advertisers too. Advertisers are people that have a stake in this society too, and probably want the best for it. Perhaps, a ToysRUs exec may read a criticism like this one, and next time, just advertise their toys without making the outdoors seem boring to children. That would be like Pepsi selling Pepsi, without attacking the Orange Juice industry.

  8. I really appreciate all you readers who came to guard my back. Instead of being “buried in my laptop” I was attending a memorial for a friend. Which makes this nonsense even more ridiculous. I appreciate the “smallness” of a TV ad but I think the 10 minutes I spent ranting about it yesterday was worth it.
    Perhaps I mistyped the line about Advertising’s goal. I was looking at it as the target audience. I look to ads to clue me in on what’s popular, especially when it comes to fashion. While I realize that the intent of an ad is to sell more stuff, I think my view of advertising as trendsetting is also valid.
    So Trista, you recognize my passion about playing outside so I hope you’ll return here or to to see me work my passion in ways that encourage participation and not judge my mission by a snippet opinion piece about an ad I didn’t like.

  9. It’s a shame you can’t get this much attention on your blog when you write about the races that benefit blood cancer research and children’s protection services, Lisa.

    • Right? That’s what I’m sayin.

      • “Come get your cheek swabbed to save a life”…crickets. “I disagree with the message Toys R Us is sending in this commercial”…flood gates open. Maybe you can find a way to combine the two next time. 😉

      • Come get your cheek swabbed by a model who had plastic surgery to look like a real life Barbie? Get your cheek swabbed by the CEO of a company that dumps waste into a waterway?

  10. haha my cheeks suddenly feel itchy

  11. Pingback: Viruses, Epic Brand Fails, and Halloween! - The Ederington Family

  12. Jason N. on said:

    you should add Edith Cobb’s book
    to your reading list.

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