Watchdog Cites Skechers Ad as Too Cool for School

Last Updated Nov 25, 2009 12:53 PM EST

The Children's Advertising Review Unit, an advertising watchdog that keeps tabs on marketing that targets kids, has chided shoemaker Skechers for an ad that made its shoes seem too cool (video below).

In the ad, an animated girl named "HyDee" rules her school's locker hallway because she's got new Skechers Hy-Tops sneakers. CARU said that it delivered the unrealistic message that girls might become popular in school if they owned a pair. The ruling will doubtless vex marketers who target kids, as making them believe they can acquire "cool" through purchases is the basis of, well, pretty much all kids advertising. CARU said:

CARU was concerned that one reasonable takeaway message children may have after viewing the commercial is that wearing Hy-Tops will make them popular. CARU's Self-Regulatory Program for Children's Advertising states in part that product presentation should not "mislead children about benefits from use of the product. Such benefits may include, but are not limited to, the acquisition of status, popularity -- ."
Here's CARU's description of the ad:
HyDee snaps her fingers and a group of adoring girls surrounds her. She snaps them again to open her locker, which is adorned with pictures of Hy-Tops. She snaps her fingers a third time and a nearby boy turns into a frog. The commercial closes with a picture of HyDee lying across a Skechers logo.
Skechers said it disagreed with CARU's decision but, as the commercial had already run its schedule, it would not air it again. Of course, it's still on YouTube (below), where more than 17,000 people have seen it at the time of writing.

Skechers is probably mad at CARU right now. CARU cited the company in March for an allegedly unrealistic ad featuring its shoes and Vanessa Hudgens which made the shoes look as if they light up when they don't. That ad is also still running on YouTube.