Friday, March 9, 2012

Sorry, folks, but bratty kids don't make me want to buy your stuff

So I was snuggling with G this morning, folding laundry, watching Cars on DisneyXD, and generally enjoying a very rare slow morning.  And suddenly THIS lands in my living room:

Seriously?  Obnoxious kid rapping his way into my living room.  Not okay.  So I sent an email to this site:

Subject: Commerical
Just a quick note to let you know I just saw the commercial on Disney XD this morning and I will NEVER let me children use this site based on the obnoxious behavior in that ad.  I don't care how great your site may be or what it offers, I will not support a company that perpetuates that kind of behavior and attitude.
Mother of 4

I didn't give it a second thought.  BUT then I got this in response.

My name is Cliff Boro; I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Your email to our customer service team was forwarded to me.  
While I am of course sorry to hear that you have an issue with our advertising, I am surprised by your email. We are currently running two commercials, each featuring a very-talented 9-year old boy (known as MattyB). One commercial is a “directors skit”, and it’s a song about and he’s acting like a kid-star. The second commercial also positions Matty as a child-star but it’s actually about his new song “That’s the Way”. I’m not sure which commercial you saw but please know that Matty is actually a star on YouTube — his videos have now been seen over 100 million times. He has been celebrated on the Today Show and elsewhere — not just because of his talent — but because all of his songs and videos are positive and about kids/people empowerment. While we are not affiliated with any religion as a Company — please know that Matty describes himself as a “Christian rapper”.
Here’s a sampling of some of Matty’s work:
1. (His music video that we are advertising)
2. (MatyB celebrating his sister)
3. (Matty with puppies)  
I would like you to also know more about Our company has spent over $15 million dollars to hire hundreds of teachers and parents across the country to review over 5 million appropriate videos, games, images and YouTube videos for kids. To our knowledge, we’ve created the largest selection of kids-appropriate content in the world. Our products have been honored at the US Senate and I personally was honored by the White House in September for as a “Champion of Change”. We’ve also been recognized as the innovator in making the Internet better for kids, receiving numerous awards and honors.  
We live in a free country and you are certainly entitled to form whatever opinions you’d like, and to parent your children in the manner you deem appropriate. However, please know that we are extremely proud of our products and our advertising with MattyB. Our passion and purpose is to make the Internet big, fun and safe for kids — and Matty is all about entertaining kids (and grownups) by spreading positive messages about kindness, love and tolerance. He happens to use rap as a medium — but I hope that you don’t blame that art form for his message.  
In any case, I do thank you for writing to us. I hope that you will re-consider your position on MattyB and our Company. However, in any case, I do hope that you find a way to give your kids the best aspects of the Internet in a manner that suits your ideals and values.
Clifford T. BoroCEO and Co-Founder phone: 858-777-8200 email:

In this email, Cliff accuses me of hating rap.  Maybe not my favorite form of entertainment, but that wasn't even the point.  He misses the point entirely.  The. Kid. Is. Rude.  And that kind of behavior isn't okay.  The ad told me nothing about what this Zui site has to offer other than obnoxious behavior.   I'm thrilled they've created jobs and created a kid-safe site... but do they have to perpetuate bratty behavior to get kids to log on?

I replied:
This is what I saw this morning on Disney XD.  The beginning section where he demands "complete control" was on Disney XD shortly before I sent my original email.  This child says - and I quote  - "old people yell get off the internet".  Really?  Old people?  Controlling the internet?  I thought that was our JOB as parents.  So these insulting and rude lyrics are being hurled into my living room and the result is supposed to make me want to allow my children to visit your website?  And I am supposed to trust your site to have any sort of values?  What values is that commercial teaching?  "It's okay to insult parents and belittle their rules as long as I get my own way"?  Children imitate what they see online and on television.  That commercial, that attitude, and that general sense of entitlement are not behaviors I will ever value.  I couldn't care less which form of music he uses to advertise your site; what's frustrating is that the first time I've seen this child, this is the image he's been told to project at the hands of the adults around him.   
In general my children don't watch much television because they are involved in sports, church, and Scouts.  When they do, it's been recorded on TiVo and commercials are immediately skipped.  Your ad was only an issue today because they have a day off and my son and I were watching a movie together before he went to a friend's house.  The joy of living in a free country is that I can and will have the opinion that this is not behavior I want my children to copy or a business I want to support.  I used it as an opportunity to teach my 8 year old that behavior like that will get him nowhere in our home.  So maybe a thank you is in order... thank you for this ridiculousness as it allowed me to take 20 seconds out of my day to remind my son what behaviors will and won't fly in this house.  And thank you for the lovely conversation my husband I had about whether DisneyXD is a channel will will continue to let the kids watch.  It's always good to reevaluated and re-filter what enters our home.  

So  Get better marketing folks...


Thank you for the additional information and perspective. The ad is intended (and us usually enjoyed) as being “tongue-in-cheek” -- it speaks to kids from the vantage and attitude of a “star rapper” -- but it’s clear as the ad plays out that this is a lovely kid telling kids to go to a website that has great things for kids. Most parents tell us that they don’t have nearly enough energy or time to curate the Internet for their kids and they love that we do this for them. As you must know as a parent of four children — kids like what kids like. If we told kids to visit because it’s safe and only has content that has been vetted by teachers — no kids would come. The whole ad campaign is about a great kid telling other kids to visit the site — in a language and tone that kids get. 

I wish you and your family well — and although we seem to disagree on our advertisement and approach, I nonetheless sincerely appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts. 

Clifford T. BoroCEO and Co-Founder phone: 858-777-8200 email:

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