Watchdog Group Wants Ads Out of Webkinz

December 13, 2007 -
The Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood (CCFC) is targeting Webkinz, a popular online destination for children which combines real-world toys and virtual play.

A CCFC press release issued this morning demands that the Webkinz site remove ads for third-party products. According to the Boston-based group, Webkinz began integrating ads into its virtual world in October.

A current Webkinz campaign is promoting the film Alvin and the Chipmunks (screen shot at left), while similar ads ran for the recent Bee Movie. Susan Linn, CCFC director, said:
One of the reasons parents purchase Webkinz is the expectation that the website will be free of advertising.  It is disappointing that Webkinz is choosing to maximize profits at the expense of parents' trust.

[Webkinz corporate owner] Ganz was already walking a fine line since the site is really designed to sell more Webkinz. But adding immersive advertising for other products is all about greed.

CCFC is initiating a letter-writing campaign to Webkinz management in an effort to have the advertising pulled.

Comments

I'm all for this. People pay for access to the site, then get adverts on top? Gimme a break!

Damn, these people (CCFC) need to get a life.

Nobody expects there to be no advertising. People are shocked when they find a place without advertising nowadays. Live with it.

"It is disappointing that Webkinz is choosing to maximize profits at the expense of parents’ trust."

Oh, please. Like Buckeye said, these guys need to get a life. "OMFG ADS THEY WILL BRAINWASH MY CHILDS AND TAKE AWAY THE FREE WILL OF PARENTS!!!"

It's just... ugh.

parents should be more concerned their child is wasting their childhood on Webkinz. If the ads for the site are any indication, it's most likely a place where growing imaginations go to die. Not the damn ads on the site.

"One of the reasons parents purchase Webkinz is the expectation that the website will be free of advertising."

Give me a break! Parents don't let there kids on here because they don't have commercials. Parents put there kids on there so that they don't have to bother parenting them.

Granted, thats not always the case I'm sure, but I'm willing to bet most parents see it as a place to dump their kids for a few hours.

One of the reasons parents purchase Webkinz is the expectation that the website will be free of advertising.

Riiiiiiiiight. I don't seem to remember that at all in the advertising for the toys. Who are these naive parents? It's an online game. What online game DOESN'T contain ads, unless you pay $15/month?
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

but the hundreds of hours of television commercials kids absorb are ok?

does anyone here know if people who actually have something worthwhile to complain about still exist?

@jonc2006

Yes there are some that still exist. They are the people that complain about the people that complain about stupid things.

"Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood"

ROFLMFAO

I hate web ads in genereal therea nusance and don't do anything except waste my time.

I'm inclined to hear some opinions of parents that might have kids. Kids that love Webkinz because it's fun or cute or whatever, and love whatever Webkinz advertises, and ask Mommy and Daddy for whatever is advertised, and then cry if they don't get what they want.
There's something to be said for parents keeping an eye on their kids and those kids' web activities. But the advertising may be implemented in such a way that the parents won't necessarily catch it, and parents might not even be concerned because they're resigned to a world where advertisements are everywhere. But a lot of parents don't realize that advertising is processed differently in the minds of adults and kids. Young children haven't necessarily learned to differentiate between fiction and reality, and between advertisements and simple statements.

[sarcasm] Oh dear, businesses want to make a profit? They want people to know about their products their livelihood depends on? How terrible, whatever shall we do? Run for the hills, the sky is falling! [/sarcasm]

Or parents could do the personally responsible (and admittedly heart-breaking) thing: Take the toys from their children, divest themselves of teh cuteness, and buy some other similar product instead.

Naaaaah.

I really hate CCFC. They basically want a childhood free from any influence that does not come from the parents, school and church. They would prefer it if there was no children's programming on tv, no children's toy, no children's games, and no children's fun.

These are the people who complained that Shrek was promoting exercize and playing outdoors. All because Shrek is a fat lazy ogre with different eating habits. Talk about bigotry. Can someone think of the Ogres?

Gid bless Advertisements aimed at kids. If we didn't have them I wouldn't have a clue what to get my nephew and nieces for Christmas.

Oh damn, parents show interest in kids yet again. Let us discuss how this is yet again proof that all parents are failures and assert how only we, gamers on the internet, know how to do everything right.

Ugh, any of these for the children people really piss me off. Not that i'm against protecting children, but protect them from things they really need protection from (i.e. - child molesters, physical or mental abuse from parents or others) not things they don't need protection from (i.e. - seeing a few commercials, video games, movies, music, ect.)

Why is everyone so pissed at this? This is what the CFCC said in their mandate that they'll do. If they want to go after Webkinz or whatever because they have commercials targeted at kids let 'em go crazy.

What pisses me off is when the CFCC starts getting all high and mighty about games that are not aimed at kids and that feature no advertisements that kids would reasonably see. That's when they can shut the hell up.

Basically, I'd rather have them spending their time on this then on trying to regulate my games.

I agree with this. Advertising to children can be one of the most damaging, unethical, and absurd forms of commercialism currently practed in our society. Children are not mature enough to ignore extremely powerful advertising techniques, and these techniques often monopolize the asthetic tastes of children for years (power advertising has also been tied to poor conduct, low scores, childhood obesity, etc) . Advertising companies know the unethical conduct that takes place within their advertising and should exercise greater judgment in the first place.

You people need to realize how the minds of children are being knowingly manipulated by people whose only concern is the generation of profit. I usually couldn't give a damn less about the children, but this is one issue where a bad thing is imbedded so deeply into society that speaking out is almost neccessary.

@Tom
We (or at least most of us) are pissed at this because this is a kids' website and adverts on this site are not for games like GTA of Manhunt 2. Most or all of these ads are for childrens' entertainment. The CCFC is losing it and they proved their insanity with this stunt.

@Pandralisk (sorry for double posting)
When you bitch and moan ads for entertainment for kids, you have gone over the edge.

If it were for games such as Gears of War, Halo 3, or Mass Effect, I could see the CCFC's complaint. Those games should never be advertised on a website for kids. However, that is not the case here. These are ads for kids entertainment, not for mature entertainment.

@Diane

I feel that way about here sometimes however the CCFC is kind of idiotic. The website is a free add-on to the product purchased. Websites cost money to run, and if webkinz sales are down do they expect the company to just eat the cash? What CCFC should do is boycott the site and stop buying Webkinz instead of sending edicts to companies.

If they don't like it, they don't have to buy it. Maybe they should quit bitching and learn to parent their own kids.

Get an ad blocker.

End of solution

remember all the cartoons in the 80's that were just thinly disguised 30-minute commercials? when they didn't have to trick you into hearing about a product they just came out and said "hey, buy this, idiot!" and everyone was content with that kind of advertising?

those were the days.

"If they don’t like it, they don’t have to buy it. Maybe they should quit bitching and learn to parent their own kids."

Exactly. The parents are the ones with the money. All they have to do is say "NO" if their child asks for something. Not that hard to do actually. Yes, the kids might moan, bitch and complain but no one said parenting is easy. Parenting is for the parent to do not the government or the CCFC.

I have to post because this may be one of the few times I'll ever get to use this phrase, but I agree with Pandralisk.
For one, you can't just say that parents can say no to what the kids can have. Kids throw tantrums when they don't get what they want at times, and they don't always understand the concept of compromise, just the concept of 'I want!' The choice might either be a prolonged tantrum in a public place, or capitulating to their demands.
But more importantly is the ethical concerns. Young kids don't process advertising the same way. They're more likely to be completely convinced by it, and being impressioned at a young age can impact your choices for years. McDonald's didn't invent Ronald McDonald on a whim. Kids think positive things when they see clowns, and Ronald ads would create subconsious positive connotations that cannot be easily broken up. Advertising to adults is at least ethical because adults understand ads enough to know they have a choice, but advertising to kids is half a step above brainwashing.

@Benji
"Kids throw tantrums when they don’t get what they want at times, and they don’t always understand the concept of compromise, just the concept of ‘I want!’ The choice might either be a prolonged tantrum in a public place, or capitulating to their demands."

and that's when you beat their little asses. have we gone so soft that we can't say NO to our own children anymore? what did your parents do when you threw a tantrum?

I would have to agree with Pandralisk and Benji (minus the tantrum thing. When my kids throw tantrums, I laugh at them and then continue doing what I was doing before the tantrum)

Kids are impressionable. They have a hard time understanding that just because the tv says they will have fun playing with said toy, game etc. doesn't mean they will. They also don't understand the concept of money and when you tell the kid that you can't afford said toy, game etc. they get mad and beg harder.

It also conditions them from an early age to to be succeptable to advertisning and they will have a harder time avoiding the influence when they are older.

I may not like CCFC, but I can understand why they want to minimize the amount of advertising that children see.

@Conejo: Not all parents are willing to bring such harsh punishment against their kids, especially in today's political climate when a spanking for inappropriate behavior is tantamount to child abuse. That's not saying I necessarily agree with this - spare the rod, spoil the child, tough love, and all that. I'd like to think that we can just say no to our kids but sometimes it's not that easy.
I see your point, though. Although honestly I'm more concerned about the ethical concerns of child advertising. Kids shouldn't have to try to figure out who's in the right between their parents and their good friend Ronald McDonald.

I don't like advertisements anymore than the next person, but they are an ever-present aspect of human life in a free enterprise. I'd be more shocked if a chunk of my hair suddenly fell out for no immediately evident reason.

As for the exploitation of children through commercials, it doesn't make it right, but kids have been, and will continue to be, exploited in much worse ways. I'd rather worry about those than a commercial designed to, for example, make a kid feel like a loser for not having a certain toy.

Wtf did they do to Alvin and the Chipmunks?

@Soul

The same thing Hollywood's been doing to just about every other childhood memory I have: Raping it for profit.

You know what I noticed? There is an X in the top-right corner of that ad...

Advertising is obnoxious and advertising to young children is particularly creepy. Webkinz deserves all the criticism they get if that's the road they're choosing to take.

I always liked that Consumer Reports for Kids magazine "Zillions", where they taught kids about deceptive advertising techniques and tried to make them into smart consumers. A shame that it seems to have gone away.

"Kids think positive things when they see clowns"

Funny, most of my friends and others i've talked to were actually deathly afraid of clowns when they were young children.

"and that’s when you beat their little asses."

Giving a young child a spanking once or twice as a last resort is o.k. imho but constant physical punishment when a child breaks the rules is probably one of the worst things you could do to a child. I definely agree that many parents out there are lacking in parental skills and wanting the government to take over for them, but "beating your child ass" to make them behave isn't the way to go. If anything it will make them behave worse.

@Catch 33:

Yeah, those bastards.

In this cause, they raped Alvin and his bros by making them rappers by the looks of it.

How else are free sites supposed to stay up without banner ads? That's how they pay the bills.

I guess they're against the monetization of all media.

@Soul:

Rappers...that sing "Funky Town".

@Benji

if one thinks a spaking is "harsh punishment" they're part of the problem of lack of discipline in children. a tantrum isn't a child saying "i want that" it's a child kicking and screaming and putting up a fuss. it is the extreme that requires a more extreme discipline.

and for as much as people scoff at Dr. David Walsh, his "Say Yes to No" book (and lectures) make a lot of sense on how to discipline children.

I would go for their cause too if my child's website was populated with advertisements for foods whose majority contributes to childhood obesity accompanying promos for movies that get 50-to-0 percent positive reviews found on rottentomatoes.com. Cut them some slack since it's the ADs they go after.

Obstructive and intrusive ads (popups etc.) in something you've paid for? That's worth of an ewww disirregardless of the target demographic. Still, I think CCFC are missing a crucial point here: In order for a movie to be seen by anyone at all, people need to be told it exists. The Chipmunks movie needs to be advertised *somewher* otherwise nobody would go to see it beyond passing trade and the three kids in the world who read movie magazines.

In the UK, there are guidelines and regulations about the sort of thing you can advertise around kids. Storms are kicked up if a junk food ad appears during the after-school cartoons, for instance.

Well I suppose they could drop the onsite ads that help Pay for the thing. That of course would mean that the paying members would have to make up the difference. Not likely I guess....

Hey here's an idea. Webkinz drops their 3rd party ads only on agreement with the CCFC to pay for their site, also the CCFC would be responsible for lost sales to the ex-advertisers.

@ BmK:

Well, my mum frequently smacked (or "spanked" or whatever you wanna call it) when I was a child, and now she is saying that I'm much better behaved than "most of all the other little shits" around (Yes, she has said that). I had learnt that complaining about something equates to not getting it, AND a sore ass. And I actually love her more for it, because I learnt very good values from her, by her doing that.

Compare that to my cousin who only ever gets the "Wait until your father comes home" shtick. If that doen't work, it's the "go to your room where there's toys, and stuff" thing. They don't generally work. Funnily enough, she's learned that she has to behave when mum or I are around.

BTW: Did anyone else think that the ads were going to be for things like Manhunt, etc when they read the title?

These CCFC freaks need to knock it off. They seem to think that bandwidth and colocation fees grow on trees or something. That advertising revenue is likely used to finance the operations of the site and facilities. Aside from that, what company in their right mind isn't going to maximize profit?

My sisters into webkinz, and it's not all that suprising that they have ads. There's no claim to the contrairy. Besides, I get ads in Madden and such, and I pay $60 for that.

"[Webkinz corporate owner] Ganz was already walking a fine line since the site is really designed to sell more Webkinz."

> gasp in shockcoughcough
 
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