Baby On Board

31 Jul

There are news stories so wonderfully poetic they simply need a moment in the spotlight all to themselves: Products designed to alert parents of a child left in a car are found unreliable

You read that correctly. There are productS (that’s right, more than one!) that have been designed and SOLD to alert parents they have left a child in the car. And those products are unreliable. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to see how and why these products came to the market. The research & development meetings must have involved some snickering: “No really people do this, I keep hearing about it in the news.” “You hear about it on the news because it’s so rare not because it’s so common.” “People will buy anything that has “safety” and “baby” on the label.” “Right, can someone get Faye from engineering in here.”

So we have one ‘auto oven timer’ on the market and not surprisingly there are immediate competitors. But how does this product get from the shelves into the car? Baby showers would be a logical guess. People do give the most convoluted devices. But how do you get past the obvious offensiveness of such a gift? “Congratulations on your impending blessing. I’m sure you can be trusted with a baby, but just in case…” Perhaps if it’s bundled with some similarly themed gifts? A decorative non-sharding basket could be filled with such items as; needlepoints to hang by the front door “Do you have the baby?”, a changing table plush baby monkey that chirps; “Don’t leave me unattended”, maybe some cute refrigerator magnets; “babies need to be fed” cute, right?

Now people do get a bit spacey with their cars. (There’s a woman I know who drove home from the grocery store with the groceries on the hood of her car. That same woman once drove to the library, walked home from the library and upon seeing her car was not in the driveway called the police and reported it stolen.) Babies and pets do get left in cars (sometimes intentionally sometimes not) and there are times the results are utterly devastating. These tragedies are most likely the result of a tired and distracted driver. Even if these devices worked, the driver would have to hear them. The “left behind” child would also have to be in a car seat for the device to work. So in a perfect R&D world, non-verbal babies in car seats will be safe. Children old enough to get themselves out of car seats, or impaired older children not in car seats are still in danger.

Selling any such device (effective or not) is at its most innocuous just stupid. But it could also be viewed as quite heinous. Presumably someone who has experienced such a life altering tragedy is not going to buy or use such a device. It’s being purchased and used by people encouraged to live with fear versus awareness. Throwing vague ineffective products into the marketplace happens everyday. But this particular product is pitched to avert a man-made disaster that stems from distraction and fatigue. How does a false sense of security (which would come from even a functioning device) do anything but exacerbate whatever problem might exist?

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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Childhood, Media/Marketing


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