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Back to Playboy…errrr School

Marketing to kids is always a touchy subject. But even worse is when a company accidentally markets to kids. And when you accidentally market to kids something that is seriously adult-oriented…watch out! Check out this story, from the Globe & Mail‘s Business section: Firm regrets back-to-school ad for Playboy thongs, bras Giant Tiger, a discount […]

Marketing to kids is always a touchy subject. But even worse is when a company accidentally markets to kids. And when you accidentally market to kids something that is seriously adult-oriented…watch out!

Check out this story, from the Globe & Mail‘s Business section: Firm regrets back-to-school ad for Playboy thongs, bras

Giant Tiger, a discount retailer with outlets across Canada, says it made a big mistake when it marketed Playboy-branded underwear in a back-to-school flyer. Many parents complained to the retailer over the ads for bras, thongs and other items with Playboy’s logo.

Giant Tiger has apologized to the parents, and Playboy, according to the news agency, is working with the retailer to ensure that such items are aimed at women over 18. Playboy, the spokeswoman said, has strict rules that prohibit marketing to minors….

Now, the actual offense here is pretty modest (no pun intended). And there’s every reason to believe both companies when they say it was all a mistake.

I wonder if this is another, quite different, kind of example of the little ethical lapses (or lapses in quality more generally) that can occur when things are done cheaply. (For those of you not familiar with the chain, Giant Tiger stores are a couple of notches down-scale from Walmart, in most regards. Discount products, cheaply displayed.) Without casting aspersions on the skill or judgment of the workers who put together Giant Tiger’s flyers, I have to wonder whether slips of this kind aren’t more likely at bargain-basement retailers. If you shop at GT, you’re either shopping there because you can’t afford to shop somewhere more fancy, or you’re choosing to in order to save money to spend on other things. And, at risk of overgeneralizing, if you want stuff cheap, you’re going to get things done cheaply. Sweatshop labour may be the most high-profile result, but you’re also going to get things like shoddy marketing. On the other hand, I wonder if this could have happened at that most famous of discount retailers, Walmart? They’re famous for cutting costs, but they’re also famous for efficiency.