Inspiring toy ad for girls, just in time for holiday shopping season

A few things about this ad:

(see update, No. 4 item, below)

1. It’s inspiring. Marketing does have an effect on all of us, but especially children. There are  many girls who are going to see this ad and be inspired to make cool stuff. Older girls will recognize themselves and their eyes will be opened to the tiny limiting box they’ve been shoved into by toy companies.

2. Normally, I don’t like it when the focus is on the message “girls can do that, too.” That perpetuates the idea that girls are limited in what they can do and need special attention.  Show, don’t tell, as they say in writing class. I like to see media messages that simply show girls doing cool things without explicitly saying, “Look, it’s a girl doing this cool thing.”

HOWEVER, in this case, the message is different. There’s media literacy going on here – girls questioning the message they’ve been given. Girls have been buried in this message that they like pretty pink things, and everything else is for boys. This ad says explicitly “That is total and complete crap!” Well, pretty explicitly. And that’s what needs to be said.

3. I’m seeing some tweets coming over the wire suggesting that it was somehow wrong to hire a man to build the cool thing in the ad or produce the video. Every woman-owned business that is working to provide more choice to girls is also supposed to hire only women to produce their advertising? That’s not reasonable. Should they also refuse to hire men, ever, at this company? Does reverse discrimination further the cause of equality and help lead to the demise of patriarchy? Um, no. It’s an absurd complaint.

And obviously, the children didn’t build the Rube Goldberg device. Again, let’s apply some media literacy here. This is an advertisement. The children don’t build the cool sets in the violent ads targeted at boys, either. So if the kids didn’t build it themselves, does it matter if an adult man or adult woman built it? This man happens to build these things, it makes for a fun engaging ad, which will work to get the message across, he’s the one to hire.

Besides, it turns out, according to GoldieBlox on Twitter, that “the design and implementation team was a 50/50 gender split.”

From @ZeebraFadem on Twitter, here’s the takeaway:

So, imagine that this ad plays during the Superbowl. Picture so many people seeing a new message in a place where so frequently the messages serve to stereotype, sexualize, and demean women and girls. What kind of change could that bring?

You can vote for this ad to get a free spot in the Superbowl, thanks to Intuit.

4. Update: Some of my friends in cyberspace point out that despite the ad, the toy behind it is still pandering to princess culture!

Here’s Rebecca Hains:

But there’s one problem: the new GoldieBlox toy that this ad promotes, which appears on screen for only a few seconds, is actually princess-themed…So GoldieBlox is having it both ways: appealing to parents with anti-princess rhetoric and then, in stores, selling girls on a princess-themed toy.

She believes to get picked up by major retailers, the product has to conform to the dominant princess culture.

Sigh. If that doesn’t prove that “princess” is the dominant marketing force in girl culture, I don’t know what does.

That’s too bad, because I think the advertisement itself works to inspire girls and parents to seek out more invigorating, imagination-promoting toys for the coming holiday season.


More stories links:



Los Angeles Times


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