Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It fascinates me how all these catalog companies I've never heard of send us enticing offers for baby things we never knew we needed. How did we get on their list? Were we spied on in Babies R Us? Did a package of supermarket diapers tip them off? I'm still trying to figure out how the formula companies found us (and then sent us freebie cases of formula, which was a real leap of faith on their part since we hadn't, and haven't, bought formula. The food drives I donated them to thank you, formula companies).

But this latest unexpected catalog about takes the cake, in that it is entirely devoted to toys, clothing and gadgets you can use at your child's first birthday party. First of all, my kid's long past 1, so that's a tiny bit useless. Second, as they'd say on "Weekend Update": Really? A whole catalog devoted to your kid's first birthday party? Which your kid won't remember in the slightest no matter how much money you spent on it? Really?

Because they don't stop at cute li'l plastic plates and matching napkins. There's a special banner for decorating his highchair! A plush "royal throne" or "princess throne" (just $80)! A "birthday cake dress" (only $70)! Gigantic "walking" balloons of Elmo or Big Bird (because a 5-foot-tall walking balloon wouldn't scare the daylights out of small children in the slightest)! And other assorted pricey accessories that you'll have zero use for once the kid's party is over! It's almost enough to justify having another kid, just so you can use all this cool stuff again, isn't it?

But wait, here's my favorite part. Throughout the catalog appears this message: "Warning: Choking Hazard. Some products on these pages contain small parts." Excuse me, you're trying to get parents to buy choking hazards for their kids to party with? Is this why you only sell stuff for the *first* birthday -- you don't expect repeat customers? (Incidentally, to find out *which* of these lovely accessories may prove fatal to your birthday boy or girl, you have to go to the company's Web site.)

Occasionally I feel like logic doesn't figure much in marketing meetings.

But hey, keep sending the ridiculous catalogs my way. I'll keep making fun of them. This one, meantime, is finding a new home in the trash.

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