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January 5, 2005


Sucking the Fun out of Childhood

Hey, remember these?

hair trolls

I bet you never thought those bug-eyed, fuzzy-headed creatures that once decorated the pencil ends of schoolchildren everywhere would one day become these:

updated trolls

That’s right, in an effort to suck the spontaneity out of fads and replace it with cold-blooded, calculating youth marketing, entertainment company DIC is reimagining the trolls of your youth as Trollz!™ (note use of “Xtreme” new spelling).

Although the rights to the original troll image was purchased for an “undisclosed sum,” DIC is clearly throwing assloads of money at this project. Fittingly, a former stylist for Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears was hired to transform the once homely, pot-bellied creatures into pre-teen sex kittens, and a full writing team has developed such pithy catchphrases as, “Friends are even more important than hair gel." The resulting troll for the twenty-first century is described as a head-scratching combination of “Phoebe from "Friends", a dash of Summer from "The O.C.," as well as pinches of Eeyore from "Winnie the Pooh" and Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex and the City. ” It’s a far cry from the dumpy woodland creature we know and love, which was allegedly modeled after a particularly ugly local butcher.

In what the DIC brass charmingly refer to as “carpet bombing”, a Trollz™ website, dolls, books and DVDs will debut in the spring, to be followed by a Trollz™ animated series and, one can only assume, a breakfast cereal and an appearance at the Nickelodeon Kids Choice awards. The message is clear: Resistance is useless! You are defenseless against the media juggernaut that is Trollz™!

How disappointing. The joy of the original troll was its completely baffling appeal. For some reason, a cheap, ugly, piece of plastic struck a chord with people all over the world. As marketing "experts" further break down consumers into target demographics, there's no room left for kids to embrace something as totally inexplicable and bizarre as a troll. In this brave new world, fads are created and marketed directly to them.

The truly depressing thing about this extensively planned, budgeted, campaigned and focus-grouped new product is that it isn't even new. Instead, it melts down elements of existing fads (trolls, pop music, teen idols) to create a watery, bogus, new one that will probably succeed just because kids can't get away from it. How revolutionary would it be if this kind of energy went into developing genuinely innovative new brands, instead of rehashing old ones?

categories: Business, Culture
posted by Emily at 11:04 AM | #

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