CARU Recommends VTech Modify Future Advertising for ‘Switch & Go Dino’ to Better Disclose Toy’s Capabilities

New York, NY – Dec. 5, 2013, 2013 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that VTech Electronics North America, LLC, modify broadcast advertising for the Switch & Go Dino toy to better disclose that the helicopter does not fly on its own. The company has agreed to do so.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

A television advertisement for the Switch & Go Dino, marketed by VTech Electronics, came to CARU’s attention through CARU’s ongoing monitoring of advertising directed to children.

The commercial opens with the helicopter flying through a forest-like setting, on its own without the assistance of hands moving it. As the helicopter turned, a hand was barely visible behind a mass of leaves. The next shot showed the helicopter flying through the air without showing any hand manipulation. The final shots showed the unassisted helicopter landing, after which a child’s hand appeared and transformed the helicopter into a dinosaur.

CARU’s guidelines specifically provide that, “copy, sound, and visual presentations should not mislead children about product or performance characteristics. Such characteristics may include, but are not limited to, speed, method or operation… and similar characteristics.”

The guidelines also note that advertisers should demonstrate the performance and use of a product in a way that can be duplicated by a child for whom the product is intended. In making determinations regarding the sufficiency of the depiction of hand manipulation, CARU looks at the clearness and conspicuousness with which the hand manipulation is demonstrated.

After carefully reviewing the toy, its capabilities, and the commercial, CARU determined that one reasonable take away message was that the Toy could fly on its own, when in fact, it does not.

In reaching its decision, CARU found that there was very minimal use of hand depiction.
CARU recommended that the advertiser include clear and conspicuous shots of hand movements in order to avoid the impression that the toy can fly on its own.

VTech, in its advertiser’s statement, said that while it disagreed in part with CARU’s findings, the company had “voluntarily taken this spot out of its rotation for the balance of its Q4 advertising schedule and does agree that if the commercial should be scheduled to run again in the future, it will modify the scene(s) in question so that the hand manipulation is more obvious.”