Monday, December 7, 2009
Good Guide Making Headlines
If our new acquaintance goodguide.com needed some exposure to grab the masses attention, it certainly succeeded this past weekend. The San Francisco-based group made a splash recently for it's allegation that the popular kids' toys known as Zhu Zhu Pets contain "higher-than-allowed levels of the chemical antimony", according to Yahoo! (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091206/ap_on_bi_ge/us_zhu_zhu_pets_safety). This story is huge due to the outrageous adoration of the toy hamsters. Zhu Zhu Pets have reached the feverish Christmas-time popularity of toys such as Tickle Me Elmo and Cabbage Patch Kids.
On Good Guide's 10 point scale, Zhu Zhu Pets received an overall rating of 5.2, and a health rating of only 4.5. Ignored by the article, tin was also red-flagged on the breakdown of toy contaminants. The website contends that "This product contains tin, which is potentially harmful to the immune and nervous systems.", and "This product contains antimony, which may be linked to cancer, lung, and heart problems."
Unsurprisingly, the toy's maker, Cepia LLC, responded swiftly , with their CEO, Russ Hornsby saying, "I have been in the toy industry for more than 35 years, and being a father of children myself, I would never allow any substandard or unsafe product to hit the shelves." While he denied any danger from the toys, he provided no data or evidence to support his claim.
Despite this negative publicity, Zhu Zhu Pets do not appeared to have suffered any significant damage to their reputation or sales, reports Kelsey Volkman of the St. Louis Business Journal. One projection predicts sales to hit $70 million by the end of the year.
I think there are two ways to view this controversy. On one hand, it's great to see Good Guide making noise and trying to protect the public. They did not back down in the face of corporate heavyweights and legal repercussions. They trusted their findings, and stood by them. On the other hand, it's disheartening to hear the total lack of response American shoppers. You would think parents would shy away from buying their children a toy that could be linked to cancer and ulcers. I think it's kind of a sad commentary on the state of consumerism in this country. Parents worry more about disappointing their kids on Christmas than health concerns. At the very least, hopefully many discovered the existence and usefulness of goodguide.com. People may not take it seriously yet, but it's influence may grow exponentially over time.