Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mr. & Mrs. Kidney Potatoe on a London Bus in China

I have no plans to write about the Olympics, but yesterday in China I did see something that made me think about London. At the Coco Park shopping center in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, I stumbled upon this section of a children's play area:

an England Train and a red double-decker bus ride for kids at a mall in Shenzhen, China

For a price, the small train ride would circle around and the bus ride would lightly bounce. The front of the bus listed locations in London, not unexpected given its red double-decker design and the nearby "England Train".

Seeing a London-ish scene in China added a little twist to my day. But what threw me for a loop were the images on the bus of what appear to be Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, the toys that recently celebrated their 60th anniversary, labeled as "Kidney Potatoes" with the small print "Laugh With Amusement......" below.

Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head were designed in the U.S., so it seemed curious to me that their images would be used on a British-themed ride. Why not display an image of something more British? And why would Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head be incorrectly labeled as "Kidney Potatoes"?

Maybe someone sought an alternative name for Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head in the hope of avoiding a copyright/trademark problem. Maybe this is a promotion for a knock-off product being sold in Shenzhen. Maybe the designer believed that kidney potatoes were particularly British and then searched for potato images that would be appealing to children. Maybe the designer thought that Mr. Potato Head looked British. Maybe there was a Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head fad in London. I can think of many other possibilities as well. Some may seem more likely than others, but researching this could lead to surprising and unexpected answers.

At the risk of disappointing, I must say that I do not plan to make any investigations (nonetheless, if you have something to add I would be interested to hear about it). Instead, I will later touch on several design and research related issues raised by this example. For example, although it caught my attention, I doubt any of the kids playing there were concerned about the "Kidney Potatoes" label.

But I did hear some of them laughing in amusement.

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