Jan 23 2012

That’s how it’s done

There was a time when Lego knew how to market to girls without treating them like idiots or aspiring princesses.


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  1. 1
    C. Mason Taylor

    Great ad. Honestly, aside from the type (and possibly the brown), I could see that running today without incident.

  2. 2

    I can’t say as I’ve seen a lego ad recently, have they started marketing to girls as if they were idiots or aspiring princesses? I think the last one I saw was a father/son playing together kind of thing.

    Just wondering if there was a specific something that brought this up that I missed.

  3. 3

    Sithrazer, the answer is yes, Lego has recently announced new products and marketing programs designed to appeal to girls, and they’re somewhat problematic.

    See http://jezebel.com/5868334/lego-targets-girls-with-pink-blocks-cute-figures–no-creativity

    and http://www.hlntv.com/article/2011/12/19/lego-toy-design-girls

    for some discussion and background.

  4. 4

    Lego© has combined Elsie the Cow with Harriet Nelson’s Kitchen in order to hook girls? Zahkwon’s Knees! “Problematic” is about the mildest adjective one could apply.

  5. 5
  6. 6

    I might add that Lego has been marketing most of their Star Wars, Space Miners, Pirates, Harry Potter, Ninjago and Heroes (cool fighting robots) stuff almost exclusively with a “boys” focus: Pictures of boys building the things, playing with them, stereotypical “boy” themes etc. They also have a Heroes site, where kids can design their own virtual Hero bot, and name it… except there were no girls’ names available, just boys and a few fantasy ones (“Thunderstorm” etc).
    And the last 2 years, I haven’t come across a Lego section in a shop that wasn’t part of a general “boys” aisle.

    Now they’re surprised that Lego’s market share among girls is not the greatest, and instead of stopping the “just for boys!” marketing, they prefer to make up a line of lame pink stuff.

    I’d hate to be a little girl today.

  7. 7
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    I hadn’t realized Lego was so good with marketing back then. They should have stuck with it.

  8. 8

    Ysanne, I had a long, detailed post questioning some of your points, when I noticed that I had skipped the words “has been marketing.” I was making the point that the toys themselves should appeal to girls, that what was so ungirly about cool robots, etc, and that the problem was the advertising… which was exactly your point.

    Just goes to show that reviewing posts is ALWAYS a good idea :D

    Also, I’d like to add that I would LOVE to see a return to basic construction sets of Legos. Anymore, it seems like every Lego set is a licensed set, tied with some movie or other. I want creativity, not collector’s items…

  9. 9
    Torquil Macneil

    “There was a time when Lego knew how to market to girls without treating them like idiots or aspiring princesses.”

    Why should liking pink and purple colours or female figurines make you an idiot or a ‘princess’? Of course some people prefer more traditionally masculine toys but you don’t have to be a moron to have different preferences, do you? That strikes me as explicitly sexist.

  10. 10
    Bruce Gorton

    Torquil Macneil

    This is duplo – a product designed for babies.


    This is the Lego Friends line:


  11. 11


    Maybe you would have a point if the vast majority of toys intended for girls weren’t marketed in this way. Pink/purple/princess stuff is drip fed to girls and has an impact on their preferences. If all you see in ads are girls playing with pink baby dolls, make-up sets or play kitchens, it’s likely that girls are going to assume that these things are for them by association, even if they dig the stuff marketed at boys. I don’t think anyone has anything against girls who like pink/princesses, or boys who do as well, for that matter. Why not expose children to all the options and give them a fair chance at recognising their preferences without feeling like they’re not acting like a boy/girl “should”?

    I experienced negativity for my choices from peers and even adults, I liked the princessy dress-up stuff as well as toys intended for boys. I just liked toys, and it sucked that I had to feel weird when I deviated from the norm – well the one that was presented to me, anyway.

  12. 12
    Theo Bromine

    I had not until just now gone to the “Lego Friends” web page. Looking at that bunch of girls, I don’t see an image of the type of strong, independent, competent woman that I would want my daughter (if I had one) to be. (Not to mention the fact that it brought back unpleasant childhood/teenage memories when about the way all the girls around me would behave towards one another while I was being excluded.)

    The Duplo wasn’t as bad, though I have to wonder why the cooking/baking toys were so gendered. One of my sons’ favourite make-believe activities was playing with toy kitchen utensils and food. This should not be surprising, since it’s an activity that most kids see adults do every day (sometimes many times a day). Sad if the pinkness of today’s toy kitchens is signaling to boys that such activities are not for their gender.

  13. 13

    “Why should liking pink and purple colours or female figurines make you an idiot or a ‘princess’?”

    Yeah–you’re totally right. It’s just rude that these pink and purple toys featuring girls with combs and flowers are not being vigorously marketed towards boys. That’s horrid and limiting. What about those boys who like pink and purple and who want to build kitchens and put bows in their dog’s hair*?

    And the day that’s the first thing that occurs to you is the day that assuming “spaceships are too hard for girls, but hey, a cute purple car is just about their speed” isn’t demeaning.

    *not that I have anything against people of any gender doing these things. But you see my point.

  14. 14

    ah, yeah. I missed it. That’s unfortunate, I loved LEGO growing up, and I still have a couple larger assembled sets sitting on my dresser.

  15. 15
    Hettie Char

    ed the season.Overall team statistics look good with points per game averaging 251, rushing average 80 and passing average 98. Overall individual statistics for the top five have Cyrus Gray, Christine

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