To assist parents in choosing the best toys for their kids this Christmas, UK supermarket chain Tesco turned to parenting blog Netmums to recruit a team of kids to road-test them. The result is a series of Toy Testers videos seeded on YouTube and Netmums which show the kids interacting with the toys and offering their brutally honest opinions.
The 12 toys under review include Furby, an interactive soft toy which is already being described as the must-have toy this Christmas, along with a web-shooting Spiderman and the Leapfrog LeapPad2, a multi-functional learning tablet.
In addition to being on social media and mobile channels, the Toy Testers also feature as part of a paid media and point-of-sale campaign through Tesco's London-based media agency, Initiative.
This is a sensible strategy, underpinning Tesco's long-running 'Every Little Helps' positioning. What's more, the kids have been well chosen: they are articulate, highly critical and not shy about pointing out shortcomings. The partnership with Netmums means that the videos have an additional outlet, and any parent of one of the reviewers will no doubt be sharing the content on their personal profiles and blogs too.
However, a visit to Tesco's Facebook, which has more than one million Likes, shows a downside: the Furby is causing consternation among some parents because they have parted with cash and are now being told that Tesco has no more Furbys in stock. Disgruntled mums and dads are now using the Toy Testers comment thread on Tesco's Facebook to advise each other on where to purchase their Furby.
This has somewhat undermined the power of the Toy Testers. Tesco was no doubt hoping that, once parents view a video of a particular toy being tested, they will click to buy from Tesco.com. It's a shame that this last, crucial part of this process is proving so problematic and attracting some negative PR for the retailer.