Wal-Mart's web wish list sends toy-happy kids the wrong idea

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Did Wal-Mart cross the line with a holiday website that enables kids to build wish lists the retailer then e-mails to their parents? Some 52% of you thought it did.

"I don't object to tools for kids to list their wishes. I do object to the manipulation through applause for listed toys and the Dumpster for 'no' toys," said Ben Sprague-Klepzig, marketing director for United Way of Dane County (Wisconsin). Kristi Thenhaus, operations manager for Ripcord, said the wish lists could make kids feel they're guaranteed to receive the items they ask for. "While explaining the reason why all of those toys didn't show up on Christmas morning might end up being a great childhood lesson about money, I think this tactic was poorly thought out. It could have been done more like a traditional wish list."

Those who saw no harm in the site praised Wal-Mart for its ingenuity. "The retail giant only capitalized on kids' avid use of the web and parents' need for convenience," said Kristi Coleman, interactive marketing manager, Wyndham Worldwide.

Others pointed out parents' gatekeeping power. "Parents have the ultimate responsibility to block their children's use of the site," said Doug Spak, chief marketing officer of Red.

Some simply saw the site as a sign of the times. The web "has changed how we communicate, and Wal-Mart is taking advantage of that," said Chris Ashby, marketing director for the Champlain Valley Fair.

What you say: 52% It was a slim majority, but 52% of respondents to an Ad Age poll said they believed Wal-Mart went too far with its holiday website that allows children to build holiday wish lists that are then e-mailed to their parents.
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