View From The Glen

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sending the Wrong Message?

Both my eldest son and youngest daughter are Lego fans, so I was very interested in the stream of conversation started by Melissa Wardy of Pigtale Pals on Twitter and her blog about how Lego is selling out to the media portrayal of girls...well you can read her wonderful piece here.

I sort of forgot about it again over Christmas, and since I don't have TV and have not seen the Lego ads, have not really been paying attention. Also my youngest tends to be interested in the same sets as her older brother, so I'm not sure I was really aware that there was girly Lego out there.

But today, Melissa posted this on Facebook.

It's a wordle from an advertisement for Lego's girl-marketed sets of all the nouns and adjectives used.

A wordle (an amazing tool I use all the time when teaching and/or editing) takes all the words and arranges them in a visual representation of how often they are used and how important they are. You can learn more about it on the wordle web site.

Maybe there is nothing surprising here. But then she made this one.

This is from a similar ad for the boy-marketed sets.

Side by side, we see this.

Which is very interesting.

Girls decorate, and boys do exciting stuff. Is that really the message we want to be sending?

Marketers can argue (and they do) that they are just responding to a consumer want or need. But I think they also need to accept that their marketing has a lot of clout (and klout!) in society and on our children, and that this consistent kind of gender division sends a strong message.

I don't think it's doing our society any favours. But I'm interested to know what you think.


Finola said...

I have two girls who inherited a gigantic box of my husband's childhood lego, from the days where there were no boy's or girl's lego. I can count the number of times they have chosen to play with this on one just doesn't seem to appeal to them very much at all. They aren't girlie-girls either, and they always loved playing with wooden blocks so I'm not really sure why. I suspect they would have played with this girl lego even though I don't particularly like the implications of that.

But girls and boys are different and you can see it everywhere, no matter how hard we parents try to provide balance. I can't help thinking the marketers are right.

I still won't be buying it though. The old boring stuff from the 70s in my basement is perfectly good. I am nothing if not practical!

Andrew said...

My considered opinion on this is that Lego is trying to expand their market.Brilliant deductive reasoning I know. We have bought Lego for our two daughters over the years. They never use it and it all now resides in our son's room. He uses it all the time. Really. I think Lego is aware of the problem and the company is trying some non traditional marketing to get non traditional customers. Girls.

You have to figure it is a heck of a lot better than barbie dolls for self image. At least the Lego figures aren't DD's with a 22 inch waist.