It’s not enough these days to simply have Harry Potter books, movies and merchandise. They have to be cross-bred with Lego so there’s Harry Potter Lego and then they get in bed with Nintendo so there can be a Harry Potter Lego Wii game. It’s like one big cross-promotional orgy.
And then there are the “brand extensions” where marketing people push brands in new (and often unexpected) directions.
Just the other day, when we were stuck in a Canberra motel with nothing but the Disney Channel for the kids to watch, we saw an ad for My Little Pony Mermaids. Yes, My Little Pony Mermaids. Apparently (according to the ad) whenever the My Little Ponies visit the sea, they magically turn into beautiful mermaids – or rather, pony mermaids. I mean, I was still getting over the Barbie film The Pixie made me watch, where the Barbie character found out she was half-human half-mermaid. What that actually meant in reproductive terms was disturbing enough, but a stallion getting it on with a trout’? That’s more ‘sick-as-fuck’ than “magical”, people.
“Who comes up with this sh…” I started to say, but then I saw the look of wonder on my daughter’s face. It was like that commercial had spoken directly to her soul.
“…imply fantashtic shtuff!” I concluded, brightly.
“Oh, I want a My Little Pony Mermaid Castle for my birthday, Mama,” The Pixie said. “Oh, please can I have one. Please??”
So I did what any parent would do. And no, I didn’t refuse to buy it. That’s what an ‘ethical’ or perhaps even ‘sane’ parent would do. Instead, I delegated the purchase of said My Little Pony Mermaid Castle to my father.
A few days later, my dad rang me from Target. He sounded in shock. A seasoned-father of three daughters, there was nothing in his nearly 40 years of parenting that had prepared him for the My Little Pony Mermaid range.
“There’s a My Little Mermaid Pony dolphin carriage here,” he said. “But no castle…”
Of course, there is a My Little Pony Dolphin Carriage, I thought to myself. Because if a mermaid pony wanted to get around under the sea, they’d totally make the dolphins their bitches rather than do any actual swimming themselves. You know it makes sense.
I considered for a moment letting him off the hook and telling him to get her the dolphin carriage but I knew, in my heart of hearts, that it was the My Little Pony Mermaid Castle she wanted.
Sure enough, a few days later, my decision to bully my father into searching until he’d found the castle was vindicated. After her party, I asked The Pixie if she’d liked the presents she’d received.
“They’re great!” she said, and then her bottom lip started to tremble. “But I’m a little sad because… because… I didn’t get the present of my dreams!”
And she burst into tears.
“Nobody gave me the My Little Mermaid Pony Castle!” she wailed. “And… and… nobody gave me the Dora Mermaid that [Baby C] got for Christmas!”
Dora the Mermaid Explorer? Oh. My. Sweet. Fuck. Is there no end to this madness?
Darling Pixie: Happy 6th Birthday for yesterday. Remember, your mummy loves you so much that she bought you a Dora The Mermaid Explorer (after she worked out that it wasn’t a talking or singing toy, that is. Small mercies, people. SMALL MERCIES.)