This was not a complicated business move: create a 900-number where kids could hear recordings from Santa. What kid wouldn’t want to call Santa and hear a few pre-recorded stories? What monstrous parent would deny their child that opportunity?
The 900-number industry, at its best, is still pretty scuzzy. Here are three riffs on the “pay to call Santa” theme that are pretty different in their approaches but all end in the same gutter: pay for disappointment.
This Santa’s giving his pitch from his Christmas Eve delivery. The idea that one could bother Santa on that night of all nights with a phone call already strains credibility. That said, this guy at least tries to shake out the situation openly for kids, flat out telling them their parents will be paying for the call. That’s a step beyond “get your parent’s permission”. Also they’re donating a chunk of the gouged profits to charity, which I guess is nice?
This Santa knows you want to call him. He’s so confident in this that he’s outsourcing the job to Mrs. Claus. Yeah, call her! Santa’s too busy, as he’ll tell you. Mrs. Claus, though, she’s apparently got time to tell you a few stories. The lack of respect for Mrs. Claus’ time, that it’s so unthinkable that she might be pretty busy herself, maybe too busy to engage in a bunch of phone calls, is pretty gross.
Grosser still is this strange plastic Santa from 1988. This one has a problematic element throughout, a fondness for the experience that Santa will share with the caller that crosses a line. Ending with the phrase “Christmas is near…and so am I”, I’d be surprised if this effort wasn’t shut down at some point by authorities. I don’t even want to think about that “special gift”.
Which one’s your favorite approach? I’ve gotta give it to the first one – dude’s on the level and he’s offering those Weepuls from his Christmas collection.