Scholastic Boots Bratz

NEW YORK Did Scholastic ban the Bratz — a popular doll franchise — from its book clubs and fairs for being too brazen or was it just another book’s turn on the table? Depends on whom you ask.

A Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, a national coalition of professionals and parents, this week issued a statement cheering the decision of Scholastic to drop the “highly sexualized” Bratz brand from its school initiatives. The CCFC has been running an 18-month campaign, in which the coalition reported that its members “flooded the company with more than 5,000 e-mails urging them to stop selling books such as Lil’ Bratz Dancin Divas.”

Scholastic, however, told the story a different way. “We listen respectfully to the views of the CCFC constituents who forwarded far fewer than 5,000 CCFC-scripted e-mails, as well as the views of the many parents who wrote asking us not to discontinue offering Bratz books because they are the only books they can get their daughters to read,” said Kyle Good, Scholastic’s vp, corporate communications. “Our goal has been and continues to be to provide quality, affordable books that meet the wide range of reading levels and interests of today’s students and help every child develop a love of reading, so we change the offerings on a regular basis.”

Meanwhile, marketing executives at MGA Entertainment, the company that markets Bratz, noted the irony. In a promotional tie-in with the Sept. 2 DVD release of its Bratz Girlz Really Rock movie, MGA and studio Lionsgate had just named four winners of the Bratz Girlz Scholarship Contest. To enter, 800 applicants wrote essays to vie for the $15,000 savings bonds to be applied to achieving their educational goals. Since Bratz are billed as “dolls with a passion for fashion,” the essay topic was, “What are you most passionate about in life and how would you use this scholarship to help you grow?”

While the Bratz have become a bit of a pet project for the CCFC, the group has gone after Mattel’s Barbie as well. Last October, for example, the CCFC launched an effort protesting “the highly sexualized ‘My Scene Barbie Happy Meal’ promotion featuring ludicrously proportioned Barbies with micro miniskirts, halter tops and rollerblades.”