If you’re over the age of eight, do not have children, and/or required by the state to stay 100 yards from schools, playgrounds, daycare centers, and arcades, you can be excused for not know what Webkinz are. From what we understand, they are physical (i.e. you can touch them) stuffed animals kids can buy in major department stores, then take them home, log on to Webkinz.com and enter their plush toy’s ID number to get free access to the brand’s online virtual world. It’s like Second Life, except you’re conned out of your cash in a proper store instead of your parents’ basement.
Well. The kid-friendly Webkinz website just started showing online advertising on its site, mostly for kid-friendly flicks like Bee Movie. Parents are not pleased about this new child consumer outreach.
The Boston-based do-gooding child advocacy agency Commercial-Free Childhood has launched an attack on Webkinz, much the way the Catholic League would launch an attack: via letter-writing campaign. Sez the letter:
Many parents purchase Webkinz toys for their children with the expectation that Webkinz.com is free of outside advertising and links. Ganz has benefited from Webkinz’ reputation as an advertising-free site. Surely the Webkinz brand has been extremely profitable for Ganz without selling its young users to advertisers.
Not that it’s stopped the site from serving up ads. But parents, rest assured: Their policies are much more strict than New York magazine’s. That is, the ads won’t say “hooker service” explicitly.
It’s cute, though, how parents thought they could send their kids online to avoid advertising, isn’t it?
I didn’t think I could send my kids online to avoid ads, but I did research ad free web spaces for my daughter before supporting Ganz, and I’m completely pissed off about this. Seriously, on a paid website, sleazy.
Posted: Dec 14, 2007 at 4:07 pm