I just ran across this on the frontpage of cnn .com: http://www.hlntv.com/article/2011/12/21/boys-and-pink-lego-friends-gender-stereotypes?hpt=hp_c2
Why is this creating such controversy? Because Lego is stereotyping the girls market? My girl has two older brothers who have been playing with Lego their entire lives. While she will dive into the generic bins sometimes, she will almost always end up at her Large Pink Brick Bucket. It certainly isn't because I tell her, "no honey, you need to go play with the girl Legos." It's because she happens to like pink and purple and lime green! She also happens to like baseball, football and soccer.
Stereotypes aren't invented, they derive from fact almost universally. I'm not saying they can't be perpetuated. They can, and TLG is almost certainly doing so with the Friends line. So inevitably you get comments along the lines of "they already make girl Legos, they're called Lego." Yes, true, but guess what? Girls aren't actually buying them! Or not enough are anyway. Why? Well apparently their market research said because there isn't enough pink (and the minifigs aren't girly enough, and there is a difference in play modes between girls and boys, etc.).
I can't help but wonder if the parents who are up in arms about this are just worried that Lego is creating something their little girls are actually going to want! Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I'm not the least bit worried that if my daughter plays with a Lego beauty shop that her little mind is going to think that's her only career option as an adult. Are these parent really worried that little Sally wants to play with a toy where the girl has a treehouse, or is a vet, or is an inventor. Egaads!
Well, I guess those particular sets would actually be okay, as long as they weren't pink. ;)
A friend of mine in the English PHD program at North Dakota State University has been researching a bit of information on toy marketing in aspect towards the sex of the child. Here are two articles that shine a light on both why people should not be angry about what TLG is doing: http://www.gendertrainings.com/marketing_to_boys_and_girls.html
and also why people should be angry about what TLG is doing: http://www.achilleseffect.com/2011/03/word-cloud-how-toy-ad-vocabulary-reinforces-gender-stereotypes/
From what my buddy has shared with me, @avoiceoreason is absolutely correct, boys and girls have different playing methods and color pallets that they play with. My mom, a pre-school teacher for 27 years, pointed that one out to me... and what she told me follows the gender training link to a tee.
Still, I believe that TLG has always marketed the bulk of its commercials towards the "boy" style of play... following what the achilles effect link states about how toys are marketed to boys and girls. I'm a bit frustrated with the direction of Friends because I have nieces who find their style of play within the City, HP, and Atlantis themes. The unique concept with them, though, is that their mother does not let them watch TV... so they have not been directed by marketing to "know" what toys Lego themes should interest them.
In the end, I just think that all the research the TLG carried out when building the new Friends line might have not been needed if they had just created a few commercials targeting girl type of play... or even better yet, not used the stereotypes that advertising uses to the extent it is... and then maybe the boy/girl ratio for Lego sales would be more even?
I have no doubt, though, that the sales of Friends will be strong due to the cross-over playability of Friends figures with the polly pocket collections that already exist. Even still, some people will be up in arms (and some of us will just be frustrated).
my wife has just pointed out that the prince in the duplo line is a lttle short - you could set them up like sarkozy and carla bruni for a laugh.
Their thinking is "hey, LEGO says girls can't build random blocks into something cool, so let's give them hairbrushes instead." But LEGO is much more about licensed and themed sets these days, many of which do cater to the interests of boys. No amount of marketing is going to help sell Ninjago, LOTR or Dino to girls en masse. (though obviously some will find them cool)
This isn't to say I find Friends a line bad or worrying as a stereotype,the re-enforcement of girl type play here is no different to many other brands out there and my daughter will enjoy playing with a few set (although this could be because she shares a name with one of the characters).
That said i think Tinkerbell would be a great girl focused line with great colours, great sets and the odd vehicle, that builds on 4 films (with a 5th to come). Bit off point but hey...
She has fairy wings, fairy dolls, fairy wands, blankets, etc.
Tink (as we call her around here) would make wonderful Lego, or perhaps Duplo, and we'd buy it in a heart beat.
I no doubt will pick up a few sets for parts and curiousity.
My 7-year-old does not watch television (just DVDs), she loves her Winter, Creator and City sets, can't stop playing with her 9V Christmas train, and anxiously waits for more CMFs. She's very, very excited about Friends. I asked yesterday and she thinks the minidoll will be better than her beloved minifigures. No ad told her to think that way.
Minifigures are her dolls, she uses them the same way as Polly Pockets, in fact there are several small Disney princesses amongst them right now. I'm sure this year will find Friends on Daddy's IF, and minifigures all through the inventor's workshop (mad scientist especially), they'll all be sent to school together and five seasons of Ace of Cakes will be acted out in that bakery. And that's my daughter who has dressed in skirts and dresses exclusively for a year and spends her recess playing superheroes with the boys. She's currently working on a ballet in which she'll play spiderwoman. And she's really excited about a toy where little girls get to be inventors and vets, and no one had to tell her to be.
What my concern is that all this mainstream media attention may not have been so beneficial. The target audience is little girls, but it is the parents who shell out the money. And if the parents already decided (which many of them did) they will not give these to their daughters, nieces, etc. then the real target audience will never have a chance to experience these cute sets.
I think it would have been better to just run some commercials on Cartoon Network, and have a page in the LEGO magazine, so the news of the LEGO Friends sets reach little girls first before the parents and they can decide for themselves...(c;
But again; as @aLEGOuncle said above, it may be just a few adults making a lot of noise online and it will have no real effect on the actual market.
I have also seen the later 2012 sets and they are totally awesome! HUGE sets with lots and lots of playability! I think boys will want them too!...(c;
Methinks the "experts" don't know too much about the history of the LEGO toy....
It's also not like this is the first girl-oriented theme they're doing either.
Here's the thing. Right or wrong, the perception among the masses is that LEGO is a boy's toy. LEGO is trying to bring in a whole new segment of customers, and honestly they are going about it the right way. They can't just sell their existing themes to this group that has it ingrained in them that it's a boys' toy. So they are changing it up - a minifig that non-LEGO fan girls can get interested in, placement in the girl aisles of toy stores, colorful packaging, marketing etc. They whole goal is to gain new LEGO fans in this theme, which will them probably open up these new fans into other themes. It's a gateway, a hook. They aren't marketing Friends to AFOL's, they aren't marketing this to girls who are already into LEGO. they are marketing this to girls who currently don't want (or don't think they want) LEGO at all.
I really don't get the problem people have with the new figure. If you don't like it, swap them out for standard minifigs, and you are all set. At the same time, others can use the new ones if they want. It's a win-win.
3061 - some pink, but mostly red and blue
3065 - a couple pink pieces, but mostly brown, green, red and blue
3183 - the only pink are the accessories, not a lick of pink on the car, purple and blue
3187 - a pink plate, one pink stripe on the building, but mostly purple and blue
3188 - scarcely any pink, mostly blue, tan and green and white.
3315 - OK, a pink roof, but again largely other colors, tan, green
3930 - OH NO! 7 round pink studs. The rest green, purple and blue.
Ok, I am getting bored with this. In looking in detail, sure you could say there is pink in each set, but there is more blue in each set. Why aren't people complaining there is so much blue?
When you look at it from that perspective, it would be a lose-lose. If they didn't put pink in the sets, a different group would be screaming about that. Girls like pink, why don't you put it in your girls line? Don't you listen to your customers? Don't you understand girls at all?
I honestly cannot understand why this is getting press at all. I really don't. These stories are such non-stories. Have any of these people ever even been to a toy store, or a target, or walmart?
I have said before, LEGO has always marketed to girls and boys, they succeeded with boys, they failed with girls. They are trying harder to succeed with girls. LEGO sets have always been for boys and girls, but girls DON'T BUY THEM. Sounds like we should be angry at all the little girls for refusing to let go of their own gender stereotypes that they created.
I don't have a problem with the Friends line. If it can make parents buy more Lego for their girls, I'm all for it!
My problem is that when girls play with "girl toys", that's just fine. When she plays with traditional "boy toys", that's cool. But when a boy plays with pink lego pieces, dolls or - oh my god! - wants to wear a skirt, it's not cool. I just hope that parents buy Friends sets for their sons as well.
This is great for Lego... free advertisement. They need more media coverage on this new theme, so that parents and girls can discover this contraversial toy.
PC gone mad!
Does no one take responsibility for their own parenting abilities anymore?
girls have boobs, film at 11... We needed Lego to tell us this? Has this teacher never seen a Barbie doll?
Are you a fellow NYer? Or are you just linking to a NY newspaper?
It says that it's taken Lego over four years to develop the Friends theme. "Lego friends is... the result of years of anthropological research about girls and their relationship with toys, says Nanna Ulrich Gudum, spokesperson for the Lego group"
It also says that Lego will spend nearly $40 million dollars (yes, I got that correctly :)) on marketing for this theme alone. There will be 23 different sets coming out. (20 is listed, more or less, in the Brickset database).
I would have prefered minifigs but the sets are growing on me. Can't wait to pick some up. Might try the convertible and café sets first.