CARU Recommends Anki Make Clear to Children that Racing Game Requires Smart Device for Play

New York, NY – May 9, 2018 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) has recommended that Anki add audio disclosure to future broadcast advertising for the company’s “Anki Overdrive: Fast and Furious Edition,” a mobile application-based racing game, to assure children understand that play with the race track and cars requires that users download the app to an iOS or Android device.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. CARU monitors websites and mobile services for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising – including CARU’s privacy guidelines – and for compliance with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Television advertising for the Anki mobile application and racetrack set came to CARU’s attention through CARU’s routine monitoring practices.

Anki Overdrive is a race track with small app-controlled cars.  The set comes with ten magnetic track pieces, a series of guardrails, a charger and two racing cars.  The cars are essentially mini computers with artificial intelligence that read information from the racing track so they know exactly where they are on the track and will automatically line themselves up on the starting line of the track.

To play, a user must download the app; otherwise the cars don’t function.

The advertiser’s product description states: “The Anki Overdrive app on your mobile device automatically connects your Supercars and teaches you the game, so you can start racing immediately. Each player must have a compatible iOS or Android device with WiFi enabled.”

Broadcast advertising depicts a father and son, playing with the product in a garage. At the close of the 30-second commercial, a small video super states: “SMART DEVICE NEEDED AND NOT INCLUDED.”

Following its review, the key issues before CARU were whether the advertising adequately disclosed that the product required a smart device to work as shown in the commercial and whether the product made the sound effects demonstrated in the advertising.

CARU noted in its decision that while the commercial showed a visual of the father and son quickly clicking together the Anki race-track and then sitting down to race the cars, each is holding a black plastic rectangular box in his hands. There is no indication to the viewer, CARU said, that the players are holding smart devices, nor is it made clear that to race the cars the players must download the Anki app on a smart device and interact with the app to increase speed on the on-screen throttle.

“Given that up until this point it has been common-place for race-track sets to include remote controls, it is reasonable that a child watching the referenced commercial would believe that this product also included remotes,” the decision states.

Anki, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company believes that the advertising “made clear to children that a mobile device was needed to play the game, both by showing game play using mobile devices and through conspicuous disclosures that were reinforced in marketing and packaging. Nevertheless, the paid flight schedule for this commercial has ended and Anki has no intention to air the commercial in the future. Anki will take CARU’s recommendations into account in future advertising of products designed for children.”