Look at the girl top left. Look at her face. She loves this hug. She loves whatever toy that is. Do you want to deny her a great big fluffy hug cuddle? Really? No, you wouldn't. And the feel-good prankvert from Toys R us "Field Trip" is full of these little moments of awe/awww. Around 200 kids, selected from New York City charity groups as they are all from underprivileged homes, board a bus thinking they're getting a field trip to see trees. Instead they're on a field trip to Toys R Us, and they get to pick one toy - any toy - to keep. Toys R Us are competing with santa here, making toy-wishes come true. Kids pick everything from very useful bikes to super cute branded dolls. The toys they have been dreaming of, and might never have gotten otherwise. #WishinAccomplished !
Forbes writes Reality Prank From Toys R Us Backfires With Women, and Will Burns the Founder & CEO of Ideasicle, self-depreciatingly mentions "Being a guy, I totally missed that point" when his co-worker laments that the element of surprise was pitted against mother nature. If we're honest here, Toys R Us couldn't have pitted against anything else without provoking some concern-trolls along the way. A science museum visit? You hate knowledge! A trip to the art museum? You hate all visual arts! A tour of a factory? You hate the American workers! And so on. Concern trolls will troll, it's what they do. Of course a "tree tour" where kids are raising their hands to answer questions about leaf shapes must be an attack on all of mother nature herself, and you know, not just a bland tour. Because the difference between a boring tour and a fun one is only topic, in the concern trolls world, and not the execution.
You see, instead of watching this video, and seeing kids from underprivileged and broken homes on a tree-field trip, which then turns into a serious break from their disadvantaged life, and slides right into best day ever territory... Concern troll see only that these kids are not learning about tree-leaves. Gosh darnit, they're having fun. Quick, lets do something about that. Lets complain on facebook.
And off the vocal minority went, took to facebook to complain, using their six hundred dollar smartphones and their thousand dollar laptop toys. Like an army of the Grinch they wave their "I'm a mother" flags and want to stop the fun before anyone develops cavities. We can't have a toy company advertising that they exist by playing Santa to a plethora of the urban poor children, giving them stuff for free in a day that will be fondly remembered by them forever. Nooo. They should play with sticks instead. Those poor deprived kids. Give them leaves.
Well, I'm a mother too, and I say humbug to that. Rubbish to all of you concern trolls who would deny underprivileged kids a great day out and a really nice toy they otherwise probably couldn't afford. Rubbish to the outrage over a fun prank where nobody thought a meteor was about to hit earth or telekinesis is real - I'm so sick of those scary prankvertising stunts, it's a miracle nobody has had a heart attack yet. In this stunt, “Meet the Trees” became a dream come true for over 200 unsuspecting kids, pulling off a prank like this is an elaborate undertaking involving the parents and lots of hidden go-pro cameras. Humbug to all of you who refuse to see the positive in the underprivileged kids's smiles, and instead throw shade on the whole thing. Who are you to deny them, from the comfort of your keyboard?
Of course, those who are vocal against it, have something else to sell. Kat Gordon, creative director at Maternal Instinct and founder of the 3% Conference, who is quoted in the Forbes article is promoting her change the ratio/more women in advertising conference, and she says: "My gut says that a seasoned parent definitely did not write this campaign". Alas she is wrong. The ECD for example has three kids whose shenanigans are 99.9% of his facebook status updates. Liz Gumbinner, blogger at Mom 101 misreads the ad to be "promoting the idea that learning is lame, forest rangers are lame, and field trips are lame" while her own blog "Cool mom picks" featured advertising partners of the day happens to be local toy stores, direct competitors to the big lot Toys R Us store.
It wouldn't surprise me at all if the reason that you don't see the urban poor cheering this ad on facebook is mainly because the library computers are only available during the same hours the single mothers work. Ain't nobody got time for that. Those already so privileged that a #WishinAccomplished day means nothing to them, have plenty of time to clutch their pearls. In which case, I hope those people share this season, and when they're out buying leaves for their kids, drop a coin in for their charity group of choice. Sometimes charities do crazy fun things like send kids on field trips to Toys R Us, along with their soup kitchens and homework help.
Texas Parks & Wildlife had to seize the opportunity to polevault their no budget ad into being seen by a wider audience via the twitter-hashtag too. Because in the end, all advertising is competing for attention. They have responded with a youtube video.
— TX Parks & Wildlife (@TPWDparks) November 8, 2013
Bonus! The Colbert Report made fun of the ad too, propelling this stunt high up the chart of earned media. "Toys R Us has really captured the magic of having a stranger take your kids on a bus, lie about where they're going, then take off his clothes and promise them toys..."