Toy Marketing: A Tank-less Job

From now until Christmas, we’ll be looking at some holiday movies, shows and books that portray marketers, public relations pros and other communications professionals as “soulless” creatures that desperately need reforming.

Today’s case is the popular Disney Christmas film The Santa Clausestarring Tim Allen.

If you haven’t seen it, this is the synopsis:

Tim Allen stars as cynical, divorced father and toy manufacturing marketing executive Scott Calvin who by a twist of fate is forced to become Santa Claus after the previous Santa falls off Calvin’s roof and dies. The movie consists of Scott Calvin’s struggle with his new role and how it affects his personal and professional relationships.  It’s a heartwarming tale that has all the Disney bells and magical whistles that has made this a Christmas staple in many houses, including my own.

But hidden in all the feel-good holiday spirit of this film, is a brief message about marketers that is presented in implications and straight-out slams of the profession.

The movie came out in 1994, during a time when parents were largely questioning whether or not their children should play with toy guns, a certain type of video games, and action toy figures that encouraged “violent” play.

So, Disney, with all their wonderful insight into this debate, interjected a wonderful scene called “The Total Tank”, depicting marketers, especially toy marketers and manufacturers as soulless, only looking to make a quick buck at Christmas by any means possible.



With this scene, The Santa Clause uses a growing concern for parents to depict marketers as the ones to blame for their concerns for “violent toys”.

Scott Calvin as Santa Claus is good. “No way. No way Santa’s going anywhere without his sleigh.”

His cohort replies, “He would if he’s trying to sell the total tank.”

Scott Calvin as Santa Claus becomes sarcastically enraged.

“Well isn’t that a pretty picture? Santa rolling down the block in a panzer. Well kids, I certainly hope you’ve been good this year. ‘Cause it looks like Santa just took out the Pearson home! INCOMING!”

But, as toy marketing executive, Scott Calvin would have sold his soul to sell as many toys as possible.  This is implied by the scene at the beginning of the film where his wife mocks Scott for marketing the Dolly Do It All for You Doll.  It’s implied that Scott’s outrage is new to his boss and cohorts, and when Scott is reprimanded by his boss and he hangs his head in shame.  Until he eats another cookie.

I find it a little ironic, that Disney, the 2016 leading marketer of their own brand, which largely is aimed at children that includes many so-called violent action figure toys including their acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, decides to portray toy marketers as they do in The Santa Clause.

Okay, so maybe I’m taking this a little too seriously.  After all, The Santa Clause really is a fun movie.  Maybe Disney “The Total Tank” scene is just Disney poking fun at themselves. Maybe the scene, and the other implications splattered throughout the film, are just there as a joke.  Maybe there aren’t any hidden agendas.  Maybe it’s just a innocent kids Christmas movie.

These are all plausible.

However, if this were the only holiday film, show or book that portrayed communications professionals as people that have no morals or ethics, especially when it comes to Christmas, then it really wouldn’t be such a big deal.

But, it isn’t and I wish it weren’t so.

I’m taking tomorrow off, but I’ll be back on Friday, Dec. 2 with another installment of “My PR Christmas List” highlighting another holiday movie.

Thanks for following and sharing!



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