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December 13, 2007

 

Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>commercialfreechildhood.org)

 

For Immediate Release

 

CCFC Demands Immediate End to Advertising on Webkinz.com

 

BOSTON -- The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is demanding that Webkinz World – the wildly popular social networking site for kids who’ve bought Webkinz stuffed animals – stop targeting its users with outside advertising.  Since October, Webkinz has quietly integrated ads into its virtual world for young children.  CCFC , which was alerted to the ads by parent complaints, launched a letter-writing campaign today urging Webkinz to immediately end all advertising on the site.

 

"One of the reasons parents purchase Webkinz is the expectation that the website will be free of advertising,” said Susan Linn, CCFC’s director and a psychologist at Judge Baker Children's Center.  “It is disappointing that Webkinz is choosing to maximize profits at the expense of parents’ trust.”

 

Webkinz, the most visited virtual world for children in the United States, is currently promoting the film Alvin and the Chipmunks.  In addition to banner ads, the site is encouraging young users to actively engage with the movie by purchasing specially designed chipmunk costumes and food for their virtual pets.  Bee Movie – a film that partnered with McDonald’s, General Mills and Brachs and has dozens of licensed products – was promoted in a similar way.

 

Yet the “Parents Area” of the Webkinz.com does not mention that the site includes advertising.  Media reports continue to refer to the website as commercial-free, a designation that clearly benefits Ganz, the makers of Webkinz.

 

“I am shocked to learn that Webkinz World has been opened up to advertisers,” said Jacqueline Rupp, a Philadelphia mother of two whose children are regular users of the site.  “Marketing on this site is akin to an endorsement from the Webkinz themselves which is a very powerful advertising ploy that I would rather my kids not be exposed to.   Since I try to set strict limits on my children’s exposure to advertising, I will stop supporting the site and sway my kids away from buying more Ganz products if the ads continue.”

 

Ganz has sold millions of Webkinz toys since 2005.  Each toy comes with a special code that enables users to play online at Webkinz World for one year. 

 

“Ganz was already walking a fine line since the site is really designed to sell more Webkinz,” said Dr. Linn.  “But adding immersive advertising for other products is all about greed.”

 

Take Action!

Tell Webkinz: No More Ads

 

 

Press

 
 

 

Shift Away From Ad-Free Has a Price

New York Times, 12/13/07

 

Webkinz Takes Heat For Taking Advertising

MediaPost, 12/14/07

 

Advocates Slam Webkinz for Online Ads

Adweek, 12/14/07

 

 

STAY INFORMED

 


    

 

 

     

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