Beanie conspiracy no secret to consumer-savvy youngsters

21st September 2001 at 01:00
Beanie Babies should be used in the classroom to teach primary school children about multinationals and international capitalism, according to academic research.

Janet Evans, of Liverpool Hope University, reached her conclusions after working closely with five Year 11 children and surveying 117 primary pupils about their views on the soft bean-bag toys which have been a hit with children since 1992.

Beanie Babies are not promoted through the usual means - mass marketing and TV advertising. Instead, the company relies on children's word of mouth to sell the products.

According to Janet Evans, this is a deliberate strategy to make children feel "cool and sophisticated". But she argues that children are more savvy than we may realise.

"Far from being unaware that they were being manipulated, these children were incredibly conscious of exactly how they were positioned in today's marketplace.

"They knew they were being influenced by the huge multinational consortia and by Ty Warner and his Beanie Babies," she said.

"Discussions in the classroom, focusing on greed and deceit exhibited by consumer capitalists was easily translated into an overall awareness of what the big multinationals were doing to the human race."

However, her paper could spark an academic row. Last year, Dominic Scott, of the New Mexico State Institute, warned the world against Beanie Babies arguing that they encourage children into the ways of consumer capitalism, promoting elitism.

BERA conference, 28-29

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