For Immediate Release
Toy Industry Execs Highjack the Tooth Fairy; CCFC Launches Campaign to Save Childhood Icon
BOSTON - The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has uncovered a cynical ploy by some of the toy industry’s most powerful players to cash in on one of childhood’s most treasured imaginary figures: the Tooth Fairy. Backed by former executives from Disney, Mattel, and Hasbro, The Royal Council of the Real Fairyland, LLC has launched an interactive website for kids, complete with a slew of licensed merchandise.
CCFC discovered a video produced exclusively for investors that makes clear exactly what The Real Tooth Fairies has planned: “Can you believe,” the video begins, “that a childhood character known by millions worldwide has not yet been licensed?” To the alluring “ca-ching” of a cash register ringing up sales, a voice-over exclaims, “With a target audience of 10 million US girls ages 6 to 10 who lose 20 teeth, that translates to 200 million Tooth-Fairy moments. And biology guarantees that will never stop.”
“Up until now, the Tooth Fairy has resided in the public domain of children’s imagination,” said CCFC’s Director Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe. “The Real Tooth Fairies is an egregious attempt to commercialize an inevitable biological milestone, the celebration of which has always been the purview of family ritual. In Real Fairyland, branding replaces children’s own creations with homogenized, corporate-constructed, sexualized images, constricting both imagination and cultural diversity.”
Today, CCFC launched a campaign to “Save the Tooth Fairy” from commercialization. In addition to the Real Tooth Fairies assault on children’s imaginations and family traditions, concerns cited by CCFC include:
• What was once a free-ranging, child-driven vision of Tooth-Fairyness is reduced to just six sexualized options.
• The target audience is girls as young as 5, but the “Real Tooth Fairy” role-models are largely preoccupied with appearance, shopping, and boyfriends.
• The “villain” in Real Fairyland, and the butt of its jokes, is a hairy-legged, roly-poly, buck-toothed, glasses-wearing fairy-wannabe.
• Gender stereotyping also extends to boys. Their Tooth Fairy counterparts are a team of heavily-armed superheroes.
“It’s bad enough that so many commercial characters marketed to little girls are sexualized,” said Dr. Linn, “It’s especially egregious to sexualize a childhood icon that has only existed in children’s imagination.”
Stakeholders in The Real Tooth Fairies, include Paul Yanover, President of Fandango and a former senior executive at Disney; Howard Bollinger, former Senior Vice President of Kennar and Hasbro toys; and “a former President of Mattel, an Executive Vice President of Mattel and top brand-builders and inventors from the toy and entertainment world,” according to a Real Tooth Fairies press release.
The Real Tooth Fairies is already selling VIP memberships, deluxe Real Tooth Fairy Collections, and more. Participation in Real Fairyland doesn’t come cheap. A Real Tooth Fairies Birthday Party Collection costs $379, but the company’s founders have their sights set much higher. In 2005, Viacom paid $160 million for the children's virtual world, Neopets, and two years later, Disney bought Club Penguin for $350 million upfront.
According to CFO Howard Bollinger, “Our intent in 2 to 3 years is that we project we’ll have over 30 million girls, unique users to the site. At that point, the site will become a hugely valuable asset and a prime target for acquisition by scores of companies who want to connect with our girl demographic.”
That is, unless CCFC and parents can “Save the Tooth Fairy.”
To see the full Real Tooth Fairies pitch to investors, click here.
To see CCFC’s edited version of the pitch, click here.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).