Tell Toys ‘R’ Us: Time in Nature Is Crucial for Healthy Kids

Toys R Us

Target: Hank Mullany, President, Toys “R” Us, United States

Goal: Demand Toys “R” Us to pull offensive commercial off the air and apologize for characterizing nature as boring

American kids are facing an obesity epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than one in three children and adolescents in the United States are either overweight or obese. Turning this trend around requires a balanced, nutritious diet, and plenty of exercise. So why is retail giant Toys “R” Us suggesting that spending time outdoors is something kids should dread?

In a commercial airing coast-to-coast in December of 2013, a group of children hop on a bus for what looks at first to be a field trip for a nature hike. The guide resembles a forest ranger, telling kids about different types of leaves. One child looks ready to pass out; others shuffle in their seats. Then comes the big surprise: it’s not a field trip to the woods after all, but to Toys “R” Us! They can stroll the aisles–not some boring trail–and can each pick out one toy of their very own. In the company’s words it’s “the best field trip they could wish for,” and one that finds the children screaming with glee.

This commercial is conveniently timed to catch kids at the peak of holiday frenzy. There’s nothing wrong with toys, but to suggest that nature is boring sends the wrong message indeed. A study from the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research reports that children are spending half as much time outside as they did just twenty years ago. Kids need exercise to ensure good health, and time outside in nature is crucial as well. Tell Toys “R” Us to pull this offensive commercial and to stop portraying nature as boring.


Dear Hank Mullany, President, Toys “R” Us, United States,

A recent commercial promoting your store has been criticized for the message it sends kids: that nature is boring, and something to avoid. In the ad, children on a surprise field trip have zero interest in learning about leaves, or “meeting the trees,” but are close to joyful tears when they find out they’re in fact headed to Toys “R” Us.

I understand you may just be trying to show how much kids love toys, but this commercial suggests kids don’t need time outside. Many nations are facing an epidemic of childhood obesity, and less time outdoors certainly won’t solve the problem. I urge you to pull this offensive ad, and to stop portraying nature as boring.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Terence Ong via Wikimedia

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