Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hey Don Draper: Stop lying to my kid!

So it all started when Xander was told that he had to go to the store to buy new shoes.  He was barely fitting into his current light up Toy Story shoes and his toes were hanging over the edge of his sandals.  He was ready for a bigger size.

"Yes!  We need to get Skechers because they make you run super fast and fly and be a superhero!"

I blinked.

"Your shoes make you a super hero?"

"Yeah!  It's so cool you can fly and run super fast and you are Total.  Super.  HERO!"

Skechers is a particular brand of tennis shoes which purchases large swatches of ad time during children's programming on Cartoon network, Nick, Nick Jr, etc.

I don't know what commercial he saw but here's a sample:

So we sat down and the conversation went like this:

"Who told you that those shoes make you turn into a super hero?"  I asked calmly and conversationally.

He was quick to point a finger. "I saw it on TV."

Now, playing the "Everything on TV is a lie" card is dicey so I took a page from a blogger I've followed, well not a blogger but a commentor and went a different way.  "And who do you think put it on TV?"

"Idunno."  It's amazing how so many words can come out as two mashed up syllables.

"Well," I said with a shrug, "the stuff that's not part of the show is there to convince you buy things.  They get paid to come up with ways to make you think that stuff's so cool you need to buy it."

"So they lie to you?"  He was looking a little distrubed.

I shook my head.  "Not exactly, but they don't always tell you everything.  Let's make a deal:  Do you really want Skechers?"

He nodded his head as though his goal was to nod it clean off into his lap.

"Because they make you a superhero?"


"Well, what does it mean if you put the shoes on and you don't become a super hero?"

He paused, thinking, knowing that he had to know the answer.  After a few moments:  "Idunno."

"Well that might mean they're broken.  Would you want us to buy you broken shoes?"

"Oh no.  I want shoes that work!"

So we set out for the store.  Straight to the Kids' Shoes, then over to Kids' Clothes to buy socks (we wore sandals foolishly) and then back to Shoes.  We found a pair of Sketchers and on they went.

"So, can you fly?"

He pushed up onto his toes a few times, testing gravity and found that he was still very squarely rooted to earth.

"How about super speed?"

He took a few steps forward and back.  "No, I think I'm just a little boy."

I was distressed.  Surely these shoes would imbue special powers.  I encouraged him to come next to me. "Here try to pick me up.  Maybe you got super strength."

He did wrap his arms around my knees and lift with all he had.  I, too, remained earth bound.

"What do you think?  Do you still want Skechers?"

"They hurt my feet.  I don't like these shoes."

On the walk out we chatted with the woman at the register.  I asked Xander what he thought about Skechers making you a super hero.

"No, they don't.  People just say that on TV so you buy them.  I like the shoes I got.  They feel good on my feet and they have Superman on them."

"Do they make you feel like Superman?"

"Daaaaaaaad... they're ~just~ shoes."

You know what, Mr. Draper.  Keep selling crap to my kid.

He's on to you.

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