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"I made a wish and it came true..."

(5 Posts)
KatyCustard Sun 26-Feb-12 19:07:25

You may think I'm being really REALLY picky, but when I saw the Build A Bear Workshop advert at half term it made me really cross. As part of the advert the little girl says that her favourite part of the day was the heart ceremony, where she made a wish "and it came true". To me it seemed wrong that an advert should be able to make such a statement (no matter how trivial, it was the principle that seemed so wrong) so checked what it said on the ASA's code of practice (I had some time on my hands!) and found this:

"Advertisements must not take advantage of children?s inexperience, credulity or sense of loyalty. Advertisements for products or services of interest to children must not be likely to mislead; for example, by exaggerating the features of a product or service in a way that could lead to children having unrealistic expectations of that product or service."

So I filled in one of the online complaint forms on the ASA website, and two days later I had a response.

They said that

"We have noted that the child in the ad states, ?The heart ceremony is my favourite. I made a wish and put it inside my bear, and it came true...?

The protection of children is one of our primary concerns but we have to assess whether what an ad depicts will, in itself, cause harm or distress to children. In this case, we consider that children seem to accept the make believe involved with playing games. Even if children were to believe that a wish has come true as a result of another child placing a wish inside a bear, this does not represent a breach of our Code and we consider it unlikely that the ad would mislead children to their detriment or that it would cause harm or distress to them."

I just feel that that is completely missing the point. And anyway it certainly is NOT the case that all children understand the difference between what is real and what is make believe, learning the difference is part of growing up. The advert makers are clearly relying on the fact that not all children understand the difference so that they can make money! Make believe should be harmless fun, not used to manipulate children for financial gain. (And it is also certainly not the case that children will be wishing for things like ponies - what about the ones who wish that dad would stop beating up mum?)

I know that there are bigger fish to fry but it really bugged me. Anyway I phoned the person who emailed me and she said she would take it to the ASA Council for a decision... probably just to get me off the phone!

I'm sure plenty of people will think it's fine and I should leave it alone, just wondered if anyone else agreed with me?

EdithWeston Thu 01-Mar-12 07:06:49

I agree with you.

The message "I did this workshop, made a wish and it came true" is far too strong for smaller children.

It does make you wonder if those who say it isn't actually have children (at all and especially under8s).

KatyCustard Fri 02-Mar-12 20:12:50

I'm glad it's not just me!

racingheart Sat 03-Mar-12 23:57:17

I agree with you Katy. I can imagine a child getting really upset that a serious wish, for a relative to be well or a family dispute to be resolved, might feel like they had failed if the wish didn't come true.

Homebird8 Sun 13-May-12 05:06:41

I agree too, especially about what Racingheart said. It would be so simple to fix it with a change of phrase to 'sometimes wishes come true'! Sparkle and magic without promise.

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