‘Little Miss USA’ Doll Ad for American Red Cross

Like Pepsi with Milk, There’s Something Wrong Here

Some things don’t pair well. Like Pepsi with milk, or peanut butter and bacon sandwiches.

Likewise this ad for a collectable doll doesn't quite work.

The doll, called Little Miss USA, was issued by the Alexander Doll Company in the wake of September 11 in support of the American Red Cross.

Plenty of cause-related marketing appeals popped up after 9/11. This one was in the February 2002 issue of Doll Reader.

While you might associate dolls with a children’s cause, the problem isn’t the combination of patriotic doll and the Red Cross, per se. As we’ve discussed before, while ‘strategic philanthropy’ is frequently the best approach, for various reasons it may not be the preferred approach. Moreover, limited edition dolls of this type are more likely to be purchased for adult than child collectors.

The problem isn’t the offer, it’s the ad itself.

For one, the ‘portion of the proceeds’ language is weak and vague. Research shows that consumers are more likely to support a cause marketing campaign if they know exactly how much of a donation the offer will generate.

The bigger problem is the way the Longfellow quote and the body copy work against one another.

You almost need a scorecard to keep straight all the metaphors, similes, symbols, and allusions: The Children’s Hour is the dark before the light; Children are the innocents that bring joy; Dolls can bring joy and understanding to children; Dolls can also bring love to "children of all ages;" Little Miss USA embodies the spirit of American youth; Children can help us emerge from the dark hour (would that be the ‘Children’s Hour?’) into the “light and hope of tomorrow.”

At the risk of being ‘apoetic,’ if they wanted to say that brighter days lie ahead and that children... as symbolized by Little Miss USA... are the hope of those days, why didn’t they just say so?

The topper is the small-type disclaimer by the American Red Cross. “The American Red Cross name is used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, expressed or implied, of this product.” Heaven above save us from the lawyers!

The Alexander Doll Company obviously had to spend some time putting the doll together and working the deal with the American Red Cross. It’s a pity they didn’t put more time into this ad.

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