Misleading ad for toy makes for a frown


December 06, 2007|By DAVID ZEILER

While browsing through a Toys "R" Us catalog over the weekend, trying to figure out which of the many items my daughter had marked that Santa could afford, the image of a Mac Book caught my eye.

My daughter's blue "X" is right beside the Barbie Girls Connect MP3 player. At first glance, I thought the $50 gizmo could have possibilities. Apparently when the thing connects to a PC, it links to the barbiegirls- .com Web site and unlocks features otherwise inaccessible.

Seeing the photo with the device plugged into the USB port of what is undoubtedly a MacBook - and assuming therefore it was Mac compatible - I went online for further investigation.

The final sentence of the product description turned my interest to annoyance: "With 512MB of memory, an expandable miniSD slot that holds up to 2GB, this MP3 player is Windows XP and Vista compatible, but not Mac compatible."

Any young girl who plugged a Barbie Girls Connect player into a MacBook would not be smiling for long. Unfortunately, some unethical marketing bumble brains have no reservations about showing a Mac in an advertisement for a computer accessory that cannot be used with a Mac. I've seen it before.

Veteran Mac users know to look at the fine print before rushing out to buy a product pictured with a Mac, but a lot of recent switchers from the Windows world might not realize how commonplace such shenanigans are. They have my sympathies.

Of course, everyone knows Macs are prettier than Windows PCs and look better in ads. A flashy new iMac or MacBook will enhance the appeal of almost any product. But that is no excuse for deceit.

I suppose the marketing folks - who probably use Macs - just might be assembling the ads with out knowing or bothering to check if the product at hand works with Macs. But that does not help the hapless shopper, who knows only what he or she sees in the photo.

Needless to say, there will be no Barbie Girls Connect under my Christmas tree this year. And I'm thinking seriously of doing all of my toy shopping at Target.

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