Kids’ toys are an interesting business. The velocity of the viral marketing of kids’ chatter is exceeded only by that of currency traders’ jokes, it seems. One day every kid in town is playing on Club Penguin, the next they’re all on WebKinz.
My kids are pretty impressed with brands in an enforcing-important-social-norms sort of way. Playing with the same toys is a way of building community, I suppose, much like listening to the same sorts of music or watching the same TV shows is for adults.
My son got a Matchbox car on Saturday, a Mini-Cooper. How much does Matchbox pay to license the image of the car? I’m sure Matchbox does pay BMW something. But shouldn’t it be the other way around? It’s the ultimate in product-placement. Every time I look at one of my son’s Matchbox replicas of a late 60s muscle car, I get the sort of product lust I never get from ads, left over from the Matchbox cars from when I was a kid. What better way to create product pressure for high-end cars fifteen years from now than molding the brains of five year old boys?