They make it so easy.  And I’m not one to miss an opportunity.

Their new Happy Meal toys are causing controversy amongst the environmentalists.  They are claiming that the toy Hummers given free with every Happy Grot-burger are sending a bad environmental message to our kids.  Hummers (real ones) are huge, gas-guzzling, planet-unfriendly SUV-type vehicles made by General Motors.

My own first instinct was to agree that this is an irresponsible and ill-thought out idea by the MacDonald marketeers…and that they’ve missed a marketing opportunity to use their influence over our children in a more positive way by giving out “clean” cars which promote the environmental cause.  I’m surprised they haven’t jumped on the social/environmental responsibility train yet and exploited this green issue. They can’t really lose.  Happy meals will always sell whatever the toy may be but they do like to feign an ethical image.

But then, thinking on…kids play with all kinds of toy cars.  Does it really affect how they will feel about cars when they become adults and the effects that these cars have on the environment?  Most boys dream about owning a sports car or a huge, all-singing , all-dancing 4X4.  The bigger or faster or flashier, the better.  And most of them don’t change when they become men.  But it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will never ‘hear’ the environmental message. 

Do toys really have any influence over how our kids turn out as adults?  I refuse to buy my son toy guns and is he now used to this and will never ask for one.  But when he really wants a toy gun, he improvises and makes one out of bits of cardboard, sticks and sellotape.  Not often, I must stress.  In fact, I can proudly count on one finger the number of times he’s actually made one.  But he has done it.  And furthermore, many, well-adjusted, law-abiding adults possessed toy guns as children. 

Fair enough, but, thinking further still…to those who argue against the view that these MacD toys are sending an irresponsible message out to our kids…that kids aren’t agenda-loaded and don’t care so long as they get a cool free toy, I would ask…why do corporate giants pay small fortunes for adverts that are directly aimed at our children if it makes no difference?

Thing is as well…for those of us who think it’s all going a bit too far and we are becoming obssessive about political correctness – I would also ask, would you buy your child a toy strap-on suicide bomb?  Or would you buy your child a toy hypodermic syringe and a make-believe stash of heroine?  No?  Well why not?  What’s the difference if there’s no message in the toys we buy for our children? 


3 responses to this post.

  1. SHOCK HORROR!!! What a thought! Children wearing a “toy strap-on suicide bomb” preparing a ‘fix’ with a “toy hypodermic syringe and a make-believe stash of heroine”. This is too terrible to dwell on. The horror in this is, one can see how close to reality it is.


  2. Yes, it’s a shocking thought…and probably a poor and distasteful example.


  3. Posted by misslionheart on September 17, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    Is someone taking the mickey?


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