Corporations That Target Our Children

Posted: January 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

Okay, so I have been meaning to write about this one for a couple of days now, but this is the first time I have had a chance to look up the information I needed.  First a little background.  The other day my darling, precocious little six-year old girl came in batting her big blue eyes and in the sweetest of voices asked me if we could get some Fruit Rollups so that we could give a computer to some African child.  A bit bewildered at what she was talking about my wife explained to me that the makers of Fruit Rollups had a contest that if you buy these persistent strips of dried-out fruit, your child could enter the UPC codes online and they would send computers to a needy child in Africa.  Alrighty, there is the background on what got me interested, now time to explain what I take issue with in the whole situation.

There are two things going on here, the first is a personal issue and I will explain it as best possible as it is very likely to be misconstrued if taken in the wrong context.  Anyone who knows me, even just a little bit, knows that I am a take care of your own house first kind of guy.  What I mean by this is, we have plenty wrong in this country, from partisan political actions which constantly galvanize our society into bitter factions, all the way down to the, way-too-many, children living at or below the poverty level in all areas of this country.  Right here in our own backyard we have children who cannot afford Fruit Rollups, never mind a computer.  Until we can provide for our own, why should we spend money elsewhere and I mean at the corporate level.  I slightly understand the necessity for national governments to extend the hand and use our hard-earned tax dollars to help out a starving nation.  At least in this manner, there are deliveries of food, blankets, medical care; humanitarian needs can be met with the help of nation-states and the charity they provide.  Working my way back to corporate greed here for a few seconds, let me explain that the sum total of what will be given out to underprivileged African children is no more than 1725 laptops.  You can find that information right here on the sign-in page for the General Mills Contest.

This is a fine little segue for my second point of contention.  I actually got to see the commercial for this program today.  Considering there are only 1725 laptops available to hand out through the entire continent of Africa, in the five or six days since this was initially brought to me by my daughter, one would think that you could have gotten all of those devices handed out to the deserving children (this is not said with any sarcasm, I believe those little children have just as much a right as mine do to take advantage of technology).  So, back to the point, this targeting of children by adding a humanitarian like effort to the companies desire for you to purchase their less than healthy snack is unconscionable.  How many children in our country went and asked their parents the same thing as mine did, and how many of those parents actually went out and bought them?  I cannot imagine them handing out a high-speed Alienware or a Macbook, and with computers these days being cheaper than some gaming consoles that are available, I highly doubt the 1725 handouts are breaking General Mills pocketbooks in the process.

I had to simply click on one of the two available links from the contest page to get the FAQs and the Game Rules.  A child needs to be a minimum of 8 years old to enter, thus saving me from trying to break my rationale down to my 6 year old on her level.  GM has taken care of her not entering for me.  It turns out however, that for every UPC a child enters they gain the possibility of winning a computer all for themselves too!  They are giving one away each and every day the contest runs.

Here is a link to XO Laptop, the company which makes the device that has been donated. http://laptop.org/en/laptop/  This company makes this device specifically for children who live in under-developed countries in order to give them better educational opportunities.  I personally think it is a noble cause, and a noble effort.  One of the reasons I mention them here is I do not want anyone to think I do not care about these kinds of issues, I do.  Companies like this one do their best to make the world a better place, and humanity can use all the help they can get right now.  My issue is with companies like General Mills who target our children to further their profit line rather than their own concern for the children in their own backyards who cannot get the same advantages.

My fellow parents, I encourage you to keep teaching your children how to give and donate.  I plan on doing so. My wife and I are always beating into our children’s heads that it is their “responsibility” as Americans to give back and help make better.  I would rather, give directly to a company like XO Laptops in an effort to aid their cause than purchase Fruit Rollups and help raise their bottom line.  This is not a “Occupy”-like mindset for me, I am all about making money, just not at any cost.  I think it is a disgusting marketing ploy to target children, hell, most adults will not even do the due diligence they should before entering a contest, so why not target the group that even if they can read the rules, the chances are they cannot understand them.

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