Hey Companies, Little Kids Are Not An Acceptable Sales Force

Dale writes to us that his two kids came home tasked with a lame magazine subscription assignment on behalf of a classroom magazine called Weekly Reader. It’s a little sleazy to use kids to pry cash out of the pockets of relatives and friends, and I hold that opinion as both a kid who has had to do it and an adult who has received the manipulative “please help my school!” plea in the mail.

This afternoon my two youngest kids, ages seven and nine, each came home from school with a booklet full of address forms from Weekly Reader. The assignment: “MOM OR DAD, help your student complete each form, then have them add a note in their own handwriting.” The forms will then be sent out to our unsuspecting friends and relatives, with a sales pitch:

“Dear _____, Our school can receive free subscriptions to a really fun and interesting magazine…You help me reach my goal simply by buying or renewing a magazine subscription for yourself. Please look at the enclosed list (with savings up to 80%!) and pick your favorite. You can even order a magazine as a gift. Thanks for helping…I can’t wait to start reading Weekly Reader!”

After a simple lesson in economics my nine year old realized she was being taken advantage of. The seven year old still really wants the gummy rubbery ring prize she’ll get for completing her assignment.

I grew up with Weekly Reader, but this approach seems pretty slimy. My wife sent the forms back to the school with a note that said, “I would rather pay the usual $5 than support exploitive marketing techniques.”