Warning: No Happy Children

No child labor pictorial announcement.If you come here often, you know we love pictorial product warnings. Pictorial warnings are intended to explain product dangers in a universal symbol or picture that can be universally understood even by people who cannot read or who speak and read a different language.

Here we have a pictorial product announcement on the back of a rug indicating the company uses no child labor. Very commendable.

The test for a pictorial symbol is whether it communicates its intended message without textual explanation.  So take away the “No Child Labor” words and what do you see?  A “No Happy Children” warning.

Not quite sure why the manufacturer felt it necessary to include a pictorial symbol in the first place, unless universal pictorial warnings have been transmuted into marketing tools–which will further dilute their already limited uility as product-risk warnings.

Or, maybe the manufacturer really is warning consumers not to use child labor. I can see some kid whose allowance includes vacuuming balking to mom and dad, “You’re violating this warning! I’m calling the labor department!”


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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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