Wet Blanket Award #6: Preschool Prep Series
One of my favorite sayings of late is "If you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less."
Perfect words of caution to this month's Wet Blanket Award winner: Preschool Prep Series. The name itself is incriminating. It evokes images of chubby toddlers donning starchy private school uniforms, cramming for that all-important preschool admittance exam.
Did this company not get the memo that "slow parenting" and "unschooling" kids until first grade are growing trends, so much so that they were discussed in the very issue of Parents magazine that this ad appeared? Did they not know that Walt Disney (current owners of Baby Einstein) is offering refunds to parents who bought the DVDs, due to the threat of a class-action lawsuit charging the videos had been fraudulently marketed as educational?
What really mystifies me about this ad campaign (aside from its kitchen-sink art direction and exclamation-point-happy copy) is that the company missed its chance at reinvention. Along the footer is a quiet mention of a line of Board Books and Coloring Books. Now is the time to promote these offerings to top billing.
Parents and pediatricians are both aware of the frightening statistic that by the time a U.S. child gets to kindergarten, they've watched 5,000 hours of TV. Anyone in child literacy knows that reading aloud to kids during the first few years of life is the single greatest indicator of that child's success in school. Yet Preschool Prep Series still brazenly pronounces that kids can "master upper and lowercase letters in two weeks!" simply by watching their videos. Might be true, but irrelevant. Literacy isn't a race; it's a marathon. And it would have been far better had Preschool Prep Series run with this idea and embraced change early instead of late.