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August 19, 2010

Ralph Lauren takes crass commercialism to new low

s-RL-GANG-large.jpg This makes you want to puke. A huge banner ad across the top of the NYT's home page today shows an adorable little girl clad in a WASPy, faux-period outfit including a cable-knit sweater and an artful-dodger cap with a pheasant feather jauntily sticking out. Ralph Lauren presents The First Shoppable Children's Storybook RL GANG, says the copy.

The WSJ tells us:

"Harry Connick Jr. narrates a story of eight tots as they embark on their first day of school. Since it's never too early to teach children to shop online, young readers will also be able to click and purchase fall pieces, including the ones worn by characters in the story."
I see no difference between this and ads to sell sugary junk cereal on kids' TV shows. This may be worse because it corrupts the magical experience of juvenile reading. You can buy "Willow's" cable-knit sweater-jacket for $250. Unless, of course, you're one of the 10 percent of Americans who is unemployed.
Posted by Jay Hancock at 9:22 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Marketing


Jay, has the concept of buying a $250 sweater for a child always been offensive to you, or just now because you've seen a questionable ad by RL? Their ad department's taken flack for crassly photoshopping the heck out of at least two models (one female, one male) now, to the point where the ads were removed after feminist groups were alerted. They've always presented a stereotypically "clean" view of Americana through their clothing and ads, by using models that could only fit into high-class stereotypes. And you just NOW caught on?

"it's never too early to teach children to shop online"?!!! Whaaaat? I think it's never too _late_ for that.

The whole ad is just tacky IMHO, but that's what parents need to watch for. My son isn't getting either a 250$ RL sweater or Lucky Charms cereal until he earns his own money.

Advertising of yore appealed to the logical, rational part of the brain. Advertising of today appeals to the emotional, irrational part of the brain.

I see nothing wrong with this ad. Parents do not have to buy these clothes if they choose not to.
It is certainly a lot more wholesome than products for feminine hygiene,male enhancement,slutty phone sex ads,sexual products,etc. All of the above are getting more obvious,no part of the anatomy or bodily functions seem too personal,at least this is only about clothing.

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About Jay Hancock
Jay Hancock has been a financial columnist for The Baltimore Sun since 2001. He has also been The Baltimore Sun's diplomatic correspondent in Washington and its chief economics writer. Before moving to Baltimore in 1994 he worked for The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk and The Daily Press of Newport News.

His columns appear Tuesdays and Sundays.

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