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that guy, who wrote that thing

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Wed 08
Mar
2006

mktg case study #41: mktg children’s toys

Max Totally unexcited childI have bought a lot of baby stuff. And I’ve noticed that many of the babies on the packaging don’t look exactly picture-perfect. Which is understandable, since babies probably aren’t very co-operative on photo shoots. But still, you’d expect the photographer to keep trying until they got one where the kid looked as if he was enjoying himself, wouldn’t you?

The makers of the Dohome inflatable play house clearly thought not. On the side of the box is this picture in which one child is, at best, listless, and the other is obviously thinking, “What a load of crap this thing is.” But even better is the huge picture on the box’s front. Check out this baby and tell me if that’s a child in the throes of joy and excitement. That kid wants out.

I just wish I could see the pictures they rejected.

Comments

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Greg Karber (#1568)

Location: gregkarber.com
Posted: 4664 days ago

I've never thought about that before, but it's gotta work around the same lines as the Family Circus does, that is, most parents will buy into anything toddler related, no matter how bad it is.

Narain (#824)

Location: Los Angeles, right between civilization and a desert
Quote: "NI!"
Posted: 4664 days ago

Realism in marketing??? My world is coming crashing down around me!

Perhaps it's because they think that if the babies look too happy, parents will wonder why their kids don't pictures that look that good, and will then become upset with the product?

Joseph (#1825)

Location: Jeffersonville, Indiana, USA
Quote: "With a gun barrel between your teeth, you speak only in vowels."
Posted: 4664 days ago

Little do we know they are plotting our demise.

Kalle (#1278)

Quote: "Sex is herital. If your parents never had it, chanses are you'll never have it either."
Posted: 4664 days ago

Lawl at that. I didn't think anything wasn't designed to perfection anymore. Did you fins this at a garage sale Max?

Rod McBride (#688)

Location: Gardner, KS
Quote: "www.MidwestRockLobster.blogspot.com"
Posted: 4664 days ago

Those is some grim kiddos.

Jim Carson (#231)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "Coca Cola announced a mid-calorie cola named C2, ostensibly to compete with Pepsi "Edge." It's billed as a solution to the low-carb dieters who have been marooned on the distant asteroid where Diet Coke is unavailable."
Posted: 4664 days ago

The child on the left looks like he's in fear of the clown to (his) lower right, hired to make him smile. The second kid is waiting for the clown's head to move up high enough to lob balls at it.

Monkeywright (#1732)

Location: Los Angeles, Californi-YARGH!
Quote: ""China is Here?" I don't even know what the hell that means! - PS - visit scenic www.monkeywright.com"
Posted: 4664 days ago

I thinkit's because the vinyl used to construct the playhouse is degrading, releasing some type of valium-esque gas as it breaks down. You put your kids in this thing to dope them up and have some silence, but if anyone walks in, they just think junior tuckered himself out...
This playhouse is EVIL

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 4664 days ago

In Germany there's a TV commercial for some kind of mop that shows, one by one, the parts you have to put together before you can use it. I really don't get the marketing aspect of this, because everybody who watches the thing goes "What kind of plastic nonsense is this and what's it s'posed to look like when it's put together?"

I prefer commercials that show people having orgasms of joy because they drink a certain brand of coffee or soda. Cracks me up every time.

SilverCloud (#2038)

Location: SANTA MONICA ,CA.U.S.A.
Quote: "Fortune Favors the Brave"
Posted: 4664 days ago

Come on Max...This is CHINA...Give them another 5 to 10 years
and they too will have true Capitalism photos....
and the same with those babies, they will be hamming it up
just like us when they realize all those residual checks....
You might get Fin an agent so she can jump start her career early, it's lots of fun and taking all those checks to the bank are pure joy.
So don't knock it until you've tried it !
Silver Cloud

Lancer Kind (#1547)

Location: Redmond WA
Quote: "Be nice to the man with the gun."
Posted: 4664 days ago

Here you go Max. The picture just needed a little bit of marketing florish.

http://lancerkind.com/images/betterdohome2.jpg

Why is that baby smiling like I told a remarkably funny joke?

==>Lancer---

Michael (#1299)

Location: Northern California
Quote: "Chugachugachoochoo"
Posted: 4664 days ago

That. Is. Hilarious.

Michael (#1299)

Location: Northern California
Quote: "Chugachugachoochoo"
Posted: 4664 days ago

LancerKind- that was hilarious too. Thanks.

Sorry for the double post...

Tony Quin (#1310)

Location: Plymouth -urgh
Quote: "Yoga is NAILS"
Posted: 4663 days ago

I agree with all but the child on the left - he clearly contemplating higher mysteries.

shalini (#717)

Location: http://www.kai-india.com
Posted: 4663 days ago

the kid in the j&j baby night time bath tv ads cracks me up. when his 'mum' is giving him a bath, his expression is priceless; it says, 'look, lady, i know we're getting paid to act like a family here, but could you please stop splashing me with lukewarm water now?'
i think all babies in ads should be like stewie off the family guy.

Machine Man subscriber Adam (#24)

Location: Morristown, Indiana
Quote: "Why do I blog? Simple, because Max Barry blogs."
Posted: 4657 days ago

Sometime in March...2006

WOULDN'T YOU BE SAD IF YOU WERE TAKEN FROM YOUR MOTHER AT AGE 3?

I sure would. I don't think that all of the stuffed animals in the world would have made me smile if my mother was taken from me at age five... I think forcing children to have pictures of them for marketing purposes is a crime against humanity. It should be illegal. Look at how unhappy the kid is in the picture! I thought it was illegal to hire children...isn't paying a child's family to photograph a child in order to advertise a for a product breaking child labor laws? Or are advertising companies and Hollywood(where children are paid to act) above the law?...or am I just an idiot?

-adam

Also...I created a xanga for anyone who cares.

lyssabits (#1444)

Location: San Francisco, CA
Quote: ""Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.""
Posted: 4655 days ago

Kids are allowed to work, child labor isn't absolutely prohibited (at least not in the US) it's just very regulated. You have to have a work permit for your kid and depending on the age they have different hour limitations, and if the kids are on set for a long period of time they're supposed to spend part of the time being tutored since they're in all likelyhood, missing school to be there. At least that was the case the couple of times I did it. They have really specific rules in Hollywood concerning infants, the have a great story about it on the West Wing Season 4 DVDs.. they needed some infants for a scene and because they're only allowed to work for some ridiculously short period of time (something like 15-20 minutes) and the West Wing is famous for doing a bazillion takes, they had to arrange to have a whole flock of children on hand for the time they needed to shoot the scene that they kept rotating in. ;)

Colette (#324)

Location: Houston, Texas, USA
Quote: ""The good Earth — we could have saved it, but we were too damn cheap and lazy" -- Kurt Vonnegut"
Posted: 4655 days ago

I want *my* kids to look like that. Not.
The thing they're advertising doesn't look like it'd last long, either.

JJ MacMillan (#819)

Location: Austin, TX
Quote: "I just wanted you to see what bad planning looked like."
Posted: 4650 days ago

If you could understand what that baby was saying, it would probably sound a lot like, "The horror, the horror..."

Rob2Kx (#1125)

Location: Canada
Quote: "Anything for laughs even if it kills you"
Posted: 4650 days ago

How bout a site update there big guy?

Matt (#61)

Location: Chicago
Posted: 4650 days ago

Second

Ces (#2527)

Location: S. Wales
Quote: "This is the first time, I've had so much fun without lube!"
Posted: 4535 days ago

..LOL. >_>

KaelSeoras (#2580)

Posted: 4514 days ago

lmao actually I've seen that a lot on kid's products.

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