What are they on about?

18th February 2000 at 00:00
David Newnham watches marketing speak tie itself in knots

Blame the Early Learning Centre. If it had called itself a toy shop, none of this would have happened.

Now everyone sells the simplest toys as sophisticated teaching aids. A ball is a device for developing hand-eye co-ordination, while a pencil stimulates creativity and at the same time enables a child to acquire manual skills which are an essential precursor to writing.

I'm all for raising awareness, but the people who write this nonsense would sell your six-year-old a packet of fags if the fee was right.

Which is why I love it when some marketing crew climbs on the bandwagon in full view of the crowd and proceeds to fall straight off the other side.

Ever considered buying a doll's house? The Georgian Doll's House sells for about pound;100, and is suitable for children from three years. According to the leaflet, it "simply slots and screws together into a sturdy construction which is fully front opening".

Lapsing into estate-agent mode, it talks of the house "offering four rooms, an attic, opening front door and a staircase". One expect to read next that it is ideally situated for local schools and shops. But at this point, the tone changes.

Beside a photograph of a little girl kneeling before her Georgian Doll's House is printed the following: "Toys simulate different parts of the house in the daily experience of little children can satisfy the imaginative power that little children require (sic). They also give children the opportunity of learning experiences of home organisational skills."

Nice one, eh?

It reminds me of the hair shampoo ad where the woman says apologetically to her audience: "Here comes the science bit."

Simulate? Imaginative power? What this stuff really says is: "For the benefit of any middle-class people who want to reassure themselves that they are about to invest pound;100 in their child's education, here's a load of that intellectual-sounding twaddle we know you people get off on.

"We can't be bothered to finish translating it from the original Thai, but if you're so clever, why don't you get your three-year-old to do it?" Or in the words of the Morrissey song: "Oooh, oooh, give us yer money!"


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