Playboy items featured amid Star Wars and Hello Kitty products.
Credits: handout photo/Sears Canada Inc.
When the Sears Wishbook arrived on Helen Cleary-Escott's doorstep last week, she flipped through with the usual excitement for the book that signals the early start of the holiday shopping season in Canada.
She was less excited to see the pages of Playboy items featured amid Star Wars and Hello Kitty products.
Cleary-Escott, who writes a blog called, I Am Funny Like That!, and is the mother of a 12-year-old daughter, said she was upset to see the placement of the products in the iconic catalogue and promptly let her readers know.
"Why are Playboy products being advertised in the Christmas toy section?" the St. John's, N.L., mom wrote in a post Monday. "And not just the usual Playboy stuff. This stuff is in bright girly pink and white."
Playboy's controversial line aimed at younger buyers has caused furor in other parts of the world. In Australia, fashion jewelry retailer Diva, popular with young girls, was criticized for carrying inexpensive Playboy-brand pendants next to its Winnie the Pooh charm bracelets and Disney Princess pendants. A consumer advocacy group in the U.K. has also lobbied stores to drop their links to the porn company.
In Canada, a Wishbook page of Playboy products, following pages of superhero items, features a photo of a young teen girl sporting a Playboy handbag.
Cleary-Escott says she has nothing against Playboy, but she worries what kind of message it sends to girls to deck them out in the universally recognized logo of a skin mag.
"I think it's brilliant marketing by Playboy - this is a logo generation and they'll see a Playboy bag for only $40 and that puts it within reach," she told QMI Agency Monday. "But someone at the catalogue needs a slap on the wrist ... This should be in the adult section."
She feels "betrayed" by Sears, whose Wish Book is a holiday tradition for many.
Vincent Power, the vice-president of corporate affairs and communications at Sears Canada Inc., said in an e-mail that Sears has carried Playboy products for the past few years and "arguably it is becoming more mainstream as time passes."
He said Sears did not intend to be offensive to readers, but that "not all of the products we carry are always going to be pleasing to everyone."
But Cleary-Escott said the company better make some changes, or next year's Wishbook will join this year's in the recycling bin.
"You threw a men's magazine into the toy pile when I wasn't looking," she wrote on her blog, addressing Sears. "You are the Grinch that stole."