May 2nd, 2012

Did Ads for Mr. Potato Head Mess Up Our Kids for Good? How toy marketing changed the culture

By David Gianatasio

Mr. Potato Head is such a boob tuber. Turns out everyone’s favorite spud, who just turned 60, was, according to Hasbro, the first toy ever promoted with a TV commercial. BBC News Magazine waxes philosophical on the subject, asking if the advent of advertising directly to kids—unknown before the early 1950s—launched the trend of children pestering their parents for material goods ("Mommy, I want it! Waaaaaaa!") and generally changed the culture. “You can’t exonerate adverts, but they haven’t been the primary factor,” says ad exec Paul Kurnit, who helps market toys. “More and more parents are dedicated to being their children’s friends rather than their children’s parents. They can’t say no. I think we have a parenting crisis.”

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