CARU Recommends Microsoft Modify Kinectimals Advertising to Better Disclose Material Information

New York, NY – May 11, 2011 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that Microsoft modify for advertising for its Kinectimals video game to assure that children understand that playing the game requires the purchase of a new platform, the Kinect sensor.

 The broadcast advertising at issue came to the attention of CARU, the children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, through CARU’s routine monitoring.

 Kinectimals is a video game for Xbox 360, during which interact with virtual animals in a manner akin to pets. Gameplay includes activities such as teaching tricks to the animal, guiding the animal around an obstacle course, as well as free-form play. Kinectimals is rated “E.” The Kinect sensor, required to play, is sold separately.

 The advertising at issue shows several children playing the Kinectimals video game on Xbox 360. As the children pose, jump around and lie down, the animal on the television screen mimics their movements. Accompanying the commercial is a voiceover, which states: “When you meet a friend for the first time the easiest way to be, is just the way you are. You are the controller. Kinectimals, only on Kinect, for Xbox 360.” The commercial’s closing shot shows an Xbox 360 and the Kinect sensor.

 CARU was concerned that children watching the commercial might not understand that the Kinect sensor must be purchased separately in order to play the game.

 Microsoft, in response to CARU’s inquiry, said that while the company believed the distinction in the closing shot to be clear, it would voluntarily modify the shot and include an audio disclosure that states the game and Kinect sensor are sold separately. Further, the company said that the disclosure would more clearly alert children to the fact that the advertised game requires the purchase of the Kinect sensor and that the game is not included with a purchase of the Xbox 360 or the sensor.

Microsoft said in its advertiser’s statement that the company is committed to “self-regulation and appreciates CARU’s attention to this matter as well as its important efforts to promote self-regulation throughout the industry.”