A Duncan Yo-yo commercial that told kids to give them “the finger” has been dropped from television after a watchdog group got retailers to discontinue sales of the classic toy.
A 30-second commercial that showed 17 young people giving the middle finger gesture of vulgarity to the television audience not only angered thousands of parents, it upset national toy store giant Toys R Us. Live demonstrations by yo-yo professionals who appeared in the commercials were canceled at Toys R Us and similar actions were threatened at other outlets.
Toys R Us executive Warren Kornblum was so offended when he was shown a tape of the commercial that he also decided to discontinue sales of Duncan Yo-yos at all 1,500 Toys R Us Stores.
“We are a company that absolutely stands for family values,” said Kornblum.
Duncan Yo-yos are manufactured by Duncan Toy, a subsidiary of Flambeau Products. Flambeau manufactures a very popular line of duck, goose, turkey and other decoys for hunting. A protest mounted by the American Family Association not only brought Duncan thousands of calls, it threatened sales of their full line of products.
Toys R Us became aware of the commercial and a nation-wide protest when an article appeared in WorldNetDaily. Toys R Us was contacted by WorldNetDaily for a comment regarding live demonstrations of yo-yos at their stores in many states. Spokesmen were unaware of the commercial at that time but expressed shock and concern.
Their investigation led to the ban of the demonstrations and discontinued sales of the yo-yos. Other retail outlets were also considering similar action when the announcement was made that the commercial would not air again.
Initially Jason Sauey, president of Flambeau, remained determined to continue the controversial commercial despite the protest. He acknowledged that his staff was taking more calls than they could count, but insisted the commercial would remain on MTV and wrestling shows.
After three weeks of protest and the decision by Toys R Us to drop sales of the Duncan Yo-yo, Sauey announced the commercials were through.
Sauey could not be reached for comment, and his secretary would only say, “We have completed the run of the commercial.” She refused to comment further. It was implied that the commercial was scheduled to end anyway, however Sauey had previously told WorldNetDaily that it was a large campaign intended to boost sales of a new line of yo-yos for at least the Christmas shopping season.
Sauey explained that the new yo-yos are aimed at the X-generation, and are being used in X-game competitions. He said the commercial should be seen as a lesson to young people. The intent was to show that a middle finger should be used for a yo-yo string, not display of a vulgarity.
Parents and toy retailers didn’t see it that way. The American Family Association was actively talking to other retailers about dropping sales of Duncan Yo-yos, and had contacted Ducks Unlimited over its endorsement of decoys. An AFA spokesman told WorldNetDaily that discussions were also taking place with the Boy Scouts of America and the YMCA, because both organizations support and promote the use of Duncan Yo-yos.
Tim Wildmon, vice president of AFA believes Sauey could see more trouble ahead and decided to stop the commercial run. He called the commercial a “one-finger salute” to American families and expressed relief that it was discontinued.
Sauey would not admit to AFA that the threat of discontinued sales at major retailers was responsible for his action. Wildmon seemed to believe that Sauey would not have stopped the commercial until Christmas if it were not for the sustained protest.
“I think President Sauey realized that parents are growing weary of companies injecting filth into their children’s diet of social upbringing,” said Wildmon. “This is a great example of how grass-roots activism works for the promotion of family values in corporate America.”
“Even in defeat by pro-family activists, Sauey and Duncan are defiant and will not admit their mistake of corporate irresponsibility,” AFA spokesman Randy Sharp told WorldNetDaily. “I’m afraid that this brazen and non-apologetic response will leave a bad taste in the mouths of yo-yo buyers for years to come.”
First news of the discontinued ad came from a national toy retailer who did not wish to be named. Sharp tried repeatedly to get Duncan Toy to confirm or deny whether the commercial was pulled. Confirmation came only after Sharp explained that AFA would move forward with efforts to get other companies to ban the sales of Duncan and Flambeau products.
Now AFA has turned its attention to a soft drink commercial that uses the expression “up yours.” The commercials are part of a nine-part series produced by Dr Pepper/Seven-Up, Inc.
“We are very disappointed that they would use such an approach to advertising,” said Wildmon. “In an age where the culture is already so coarse, this only makes matters worse.
“Thanks to Dr Pepper/Seven-Up, this holiday season will be filled with small children repeating the phrase to family and friends, simply because a soft drink company thought it was cute. Embarrassed parents will be explaining to their children why the expression is inappropriate, when in reality, Dr Pepper/Seven-Up should explain why they think distasteful language is an acceptable sales pitch,” said Wildmon.
Willie Booker, consumer relations spokesman for Dr Pepper/Seven-Up, Inc., said that his company was not trying to offend anyone with the commercial and apologized to AFA in a letter. He explained that the offensive language is considered acceptable by many more people than those who are offended.
“We conducted research with teens and mothers of teens from a diverse sample across the United States, and their reaction was favorable to the entire ‘Make 7 Up Yours’ campaign. In addition, we conducted a second study and received an overwhelmingly favorable response,” said Booker.
There are no current plans to discontinue the commercial.