Will Fly Pen Fly Again On Channel One?

May 6, 2006
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This
is an update to our April 3 article "Dear Channel One,
Please Stop Your Deceptive Advertising."

Obligation filed a complaint about the Fly Pen computer
commercial to the Children Advertising Review Unit (CARU)
an industry-funded watchdog
group. We said we would post their reply to our complaint
when we received it. Here it is:

Case # 4444 (04/10/06)
LEAPFROG ENTERPRISES, INC.
FLY Pentop Computer

Compliance Proceeding from NAD/CARU Case Report Vol.36
No. 2

Advertising Agency: In-House
Challenger: CARU
Product Type: Pentop Computer Pen
Issues: Product Presentation
Disposition: Modified

This compliance proceeding stems from a monitoring
case in which Children’s Advertising Review
Unit (CARU) questioned the adequacy of disclosures
and disclaimers
in print advertising for the Fly Pentop Computer.

Background
In the underlying informal case report dated February
2006, CARU found that “a clear disclosure that
FLY only works with FLY paper and that in order for
a child to get unlimited hours of playtime, one must
make purchases of FLY paper on a continuous basis and
that software cartridges are sold separately” would
be material to a child and therefore must be prominently
disclosed. CARU was pleased that LeapFrog discontinued
the ad and that it had undertaken to use prominent
disclosures in future advertising. However, in April
2006, CARU received a consumer complaint regarding
advertising for the product that was then airing on
Channel One, which lacked the material disclosure that
the advertiser had agreed to make.

After being notified of the non-compliant advertising,
LeapFrog informed CARU that the commercial had a once
a week run on Channel One for a total of four weeks,
that the commercial had been created prior to CARU’s
decision, and that it had inadvertently been aired
in place of new advertising containing the required
disclosures. LeapFrog further stated, “all FLY
advertising moving forward, including advertising that
was created in the past, are to include the disclosure
statements in compliance with CARU’s decision.” On
the basis of the advertiser’s assertions and
subject to its continued compliance with CARU’s
decision, CARU closed the proceeding pursuant to NAD/CARU
Procedures section §4.1 (C) (ii) (a).

2006. Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

(#4444 EL, closed 04/10/06)

Obligation is extremely appreciative to CARU for not only
agreeing with us that this is a non-compliant commercial
but also for their quick response.

Will Fly Pen bring their new ads back to Channel One?
We doubt it. Airing an ad on Channel One presents unique
problems for advertisers, especially those like LeafFrog
that are aiming their sales pitch to children under 12.
Channel One’s TV sets are too small to effective run any
type of scrolling disclaimer. LeapFrog would have to have
a voice over telling students that the device only works
with special paper that is only sold by LeapFrog. They
would also have to have some large lettered graphic telling
students the same thing. That just isn’t going to happen.

Where was Channel One’s CEO Judy Harris when these Fly
Pen commercials were first approved for Channel One’s preteen
audience? Why didn’t anyone raise their voice and say,
"Hey guys, we should insist on a more honest ad for our
middle school audience"? There appears to be no effective
approval process for commercials at Channel One.

Is the newly appointed all-white,
semi-anonymous Advisory Board going to
approve commercials?

Obligation believes there are more commercials that are
non-compliant with CARU standards. We urge Channel One
to immediately cease airing small-print disclaimers and
contest rules that are too small to read and that scroll
to fast even if they were in large enough print. If there
is information a preteen needs to know about, then start
telling them in an understandable way. To do anything less,
is irresponsible.

In short, Channel One, start treating your audience with
the respect they deserve, especially the youngest members
of your captive audience.