Gender and Children’s Advertising

Written to the song: Who Says — John Mayer

“Toy companies aren’t interested in ideology, they want to sell toys. If they would sell a toy that both boys and girls would buy, it doubles profits.”
Christina Hoff Sommers

Have you ever noticed that advertisements for kids toys are gendered and super different? Even though it is 2016, children’s advertisements identify specific gender roles that children are expected to play in society. When analysing Lego commercials for “boy’s Lego” and “girl’s Lego” there’s a clear distinction between the two.

“Girl’s Lego” vs. “Boy’s Lego”

As a kid, I remember playing with original general Lego set, where I was able to follow the instructions and build cool things like huge buildings, airplanes, and castles. Key word “general” Lego set.

While watching TV with my little cousins, I noticed two different Lego commercials — one for “girls Lego” and one for “boys Lego”. Both commercials introduce gender stereotypes and Linguistic stereotypes based on gender.

Lego for boys provides a kit for boys to build weapons, cars, and airplanes (who needs more in life?). The commercial was pretty violent showing boys smashing their Lego and fighting with each other. The Lego itself had pre-constructed pieces and designs — eliminating the creativity aspect of Lego and increasing the demand as kids want to buy more projects. The male voice-over in the ad had a deep voice, spoke slowly, and only used a few words.

Lego for girls was “friends based”, meaning that the sets promoted group projects and “feminine” Lego figures wearing lots of makeup. The pink and purple sets are almost complete and easier compared to the boys Lego set. The female voice-over in the ad has the highest pitch voice, speaks very quickly, and sings a pop song.

Mama taught me to build an airplane and wave at all the haters who abide by gender stereotypes

Big corporations pick commercials that will sell a product. The actors chosen to do the voice-overs for the commercial were chosen for a reason. Kids are attracted to a certain voice which fit the gender stereotype (unfortunately). The boys prefer action-packed, powerful, and aggressive voices while the girls prefer nurturing voices.

Unfortunately, compared to ads (especially old Lego commercials from the 1950s), advertisements seem to be moving backwards in regards to social values for business revenue. Peace out h8rs, I am building my Lego spaceship cause I’m out of this world.

Author of “Q & A a Day for Travelers”. https://www.linkedin.com/in/anna-frenkel/

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