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"Friends" creating an uproar?!

avoiceoreasonavoiceoreason Member Posts: 224
edited December 2011 in Everything else LEGO
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. ;)
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Comments

  • aLEGOuncleaLEGOuncle Member Posts: 9
    edited December 2011
    I think social media makes it easy for a few fringe voices to dominate the discussion. There's no uproar amont the general populace, so don't expect mass protests at your local Toys R Us. :)
  • georgebjonesgeorgebjones Member Posts: 224
    The only uproar in my neck of the woods is why I can't get them before christmas. :)
  • avoiceoreasonavoiceoreason Member Posts: 224
    ^lol, I was with you until I met the nice lady at Target :)
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    I am one of the people who, honestly, is a bit frustrated by the direction that Friends takes Lego... or should I say, continues a pattern within TLG and other major toy manufacturers.

    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).
  • bahnstormerbahnstormer Member Posts: 180
    ^ sounds like she has it right, my daughter watches CBBC which doesnt have any ads and we tivo nick jr so we can fast forward the ads.

    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.

  • CoolsplashCoolsplash Member Posts: 935
    LEGO needs to do a lot more to bring the girls into the LEGO Universe. I guess its more about how children are brought up by their parents and what sort of access to the children have towards toys. Just a thought.
  • aLEGOuncleaLEGOuncle Member Posts: 9
    I think part of their PR problem is that people have a skewed view of LEGO based on what the product used to be like. You can tell by the ad the "protesters" are posting.

    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)
  • monkey_roomonkey_roo Member Posts: 1,411
    On the more general thought of Lego for girls, given the nature of the deal with the house of mouse, why haven't we/or will we ever see their largest selling girl brand - Tinkerbell?
    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...
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    Tinkerbell and the Fairy's are HUGE with our 3 year old daughter...

    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.

  • vwong19vwong19 San DiegoMember Posts: 1,188
    Curious... I have 2 boys (3.5 and 0.7). I wonder if they will enjoy playing with them? The house set looks interesting. I have not seen the packaging of Friends, but will it dissuade young boys from wanting them. Will the sets be kept in the Lego section or in the Barbie section?

    I no doubt will pick up a few sets for parts and curiousity.
  • JenniJenni JapanMember Posts: 1,390
    @vwong19 Friends will start on an endcap and then move to one of the girl toy aisles, there are pictures of packaging on another thread, there's a lot of pink.

    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.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038
    edited December 2011
    I personally like the Friends sets, and I see no danger in the Friends minifigs. I plan to collect them and I think the sets themselves are wonderful. This is not the first time that LEGO produced minifigures that are not standard. There is Fabuland, the Technic Figures, Jack Stone...

    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;
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    edited December 2011
    LEGO sets geared for girls? Unthinkable....

    Methinks the "experts" don't know too much about the history of the LEGO toy....
  • GIR3691GIR3691 Member Posts: 674
    Ugh... this world is too PC. It's not like LEGO is forcing girls to only buy Friends sets. They're trying to get into the girls market with Polly Pocket-type stuff by offering another alternative.

    It's also not like this is the first girl-oriented theme they're doing either.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    It's the noisy few making an uproar - it honestly is going to have very little impact.

    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.
  • The_Brick_BuilderThe_Brick_Builder Member Posts: 658
    Indeed, TLG is overly stereotypically of girls. Take a look at the new mini dolls. I have friend's whose daughters hate the mini dolls and prefer the original minifigs.
  • DatoDato Member Posts: 111
    Haven't been following this new theme, but it seems very playmobilistic and barbiestic to me. It's great that I don't have girls so I don't need to pay attention to it.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    @The_Brick_Builder In all due respect, your friend's daughters aren't the target for Friends - they already like LEGO. They are clearly going after girls who currently don't like LEGO, and thus the new ladyfig is geared toward competing with Polly Pockets, etc for the attention of those kids. Maybe those kids will eventually prefer the standard minifig as well, or maybe they will prefer the ladyfig longer term. Who knows, but if they are a new customer, then LEGO was successful.

    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.
  • georgebjonesgeorgebjones Member Posts: 224
    ^^Good gracious! My problem with all these people is they cry about the gender stereotyping, but they don't provide any solutions. They also think everyone thinks like they do, but they don't. The majority of girls like pink, deal with it. My daughter did not watch a single commercial, or TV until she was 3 years old. Guess what, she loves pink. She always wanted to wear pink. We bought her different colored things all the time, and she always preferred pink, so we started buying more pink stuff. What is so wrong about liking pink, or liking "girly" things? You know what? I am sick of all the people not even looking at these sets and saying they are all pink.
    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.
  • DuchessaDuchessa Member Posts: 287
    It's true that young girls don't buy much Lego. In fact, young boys don't buy much Lego either. It's the parents who open their wallets. I think that the big question is why parents don't buy much Lego for their daughters. Stuff like the Creator tubs and houses are aimed at a broad market.

    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.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    I just posted some rather "snarky" comments and pictures on LEGO's Facebook page....
    ;-)

    https://www.facebook.com/LEGOGROUP?sk=wall&filter=1
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    Question - is "ladyfig" a term TLG is using?
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    ^ I thought I read that somewhere in their press releases, but don't quote me on it
  • vwong19vwong19 San DiegoMember Posts: 1,188
    Lego calls them mini-dolls.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    yep, i stand corrected. ladyfig was in some other online story I read
  • 12651265 The Great State of TexasMember Posts: 1,091
    Typical.....a very, very small percent of folks have an issue, but yet the majority are the ones defending themselves.
  • vwong19vwong19 San DiegoMember Posts: 1,188
    Bad publicity is better than no publicity...

    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.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    What a beat-up! The only stereotypical set I can see in this line is the Beauty Shop, all the rest are aimed at girls, sure, but not exclusive to girls; treehouse, vet, inventors workshop, etc. It seems like Lego has tried very hard NOT to produce stereotypical sets. So all this fuss must be about the colour pink then.... well, maybe they should take all the blue out of the regular sets, for fear of reinforcing stereotypes to boys.
    PC gone mad!
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 2,052
    edited December 2011
    I think some people have way to much time on their hands if they can get annoyed about a toy
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    I don't know what the big fuss is about girls in pink..... although you won't catch me posting this image on Facebook... ;-)
  • LambringoLambringo Member Posts: 104
    I saw one comment from a neurotic mother of two along the line that the new minifigs will promote body issues in girls due to the slenderness and"bust". She then proceeded to say "what next, a ryan gosling figure for the boys”! Have they never seen a gijoe or action man? those guys are ripped but I guess she, wouldn't know as she probably stereotypes them as boys only toys. And if your child gets body issues from playing with lego I'm pretty sure there are some deeper issues in the background.

    Does no one take responsibility for their own parenting abilities anymore?
  • Ma1234Ma1234 Member Posts: 693
    edited December 2011
    I saw one comment from a neurotic mother of two along the line that the new minifigs will promote body issues in girls due to the slenderness and"bust". She then proceeded to say "what next, a ryan gosling figure for the boys”! Have they never seen a gijoe or action man? those guys are ripped but I guess she, wouldn't know as she probably stereotypes them as boys only toys. And if your child gets body issues from playing with lego I'm pretty sure there are some deeper issues in the background.

    Does no one take responsibility for their own parenting abilities anymore?
    I can top that one: some lady, who says she's a school teacher, claimed the design of the minifigures will encourage sexual molestation and abuse.

  • 12651265 The Great State of TexasMember Posts: 1,091

    I can top that one: some lady, who says she's a school teacher, claimed the design of the minifigures will encourage sexual molestation and abuse.
    I guess the teachers need to learn to control themselves. :)

  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    @1265 now that is funny! And very sad at the same time.

    girls have boobs, film at 11... We needed Lego to tell us this? Has this teacher never seen a Barbie doll?
  • bmwlegobmwlego Long Island, New YorkMember Posts: 817
    @bor2112
    Are you a fellow NYer? Or are you just linking to a NY newspaper?
  • bor2112bor2112 FloridaMember Posts: 321
    Hello @bmwlego. Happy Holidays. I was a fellow NYer...been in SWFL for the past two years, but give it to the NYers to make much of nothing!
  • bmwlegobmwlego Long Island, New YorkMember Posts: 817
    ^ha!
  • DuchessaDuchessa Member Posts: 287
    I found some interesting numbers in this swedish article on the subject: http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article14128919.ab (I can translate the whole thing if anyone's interested)

    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).
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,325
    I cannot believe some of the "misinformation" in the articles... it talks about "What it is, is beautiful" as some kind of LEGO "slogan of the era".... while all it really was, was a single LEGO ad. Talk about taking things out of context.



  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,742
    I cannot believe some of the "misinformation" in the articles... it talks about "What it is, is beautiful" as some kind of LEGO "slogan of the era".... while all it really was, was a single LEGO ad. Talk about taking things out of context
    Sad but entirely predictable - just another bunch of poorly informed, self-righteous zealots with an agenda and, thanks to the Internet, a soapbox to preach from. It'll be LEGO this week and something else next week....

  • Ma1234Ma1234 Member Posts: 693
    I cannot believe some of the "misinformation" in the articles... it talks about "What it is, is beautiful" as some kind of LEGO "slogan of the era".... while all it really was, was a single LEGO ad. Talk about taking things out of context
    Sad but entirely predictable - just another bunch of poorly informed, self-righteous zealots with an agenda and, thanks to the Internet, a soapbox to preach from. It'll be LEGO this week and something else next week....

    Amen to that.

    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.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    @Ma1234, I have both of those sets and IMHO they are very cool, the cafe in particular has so many nice touches (Lego cupcakes!!). I'd definitely recommend it.
  • Ma1234Ma1234 Member Posts: 693
    edited December 2011
    @Ma1234, I have both of those sets and IMHO they are very cool, the cafe in particular has so many nice touches (Lego cupcakes!!). I'd definitely recommend it.
    Awesome, glad you like them. Can't wait for the LEGO Store to get them in stock next week so I can pick them up. Ignoring the minifigs, it really is the perfect reincarnation of Paradisa to me. But, as I said, the figures are really growing on me. I'm a set collector, rather than a piece collector/designer, so perhaps that's why I really don't have a problem with it. And the second half launching in May/June looks even better!
  • Well, to me it looks like lego barbie or something, but I definitely will get it for the pieces of I have to.
  • monkey_roomonkey_roo Member Posts: 1,411
    Well, just ordered one small set for my daughter and will see how she gets on with it, my guess is she will love it.
  • bor2112bor2112 FloridaMember Posts: 321
    ^thanks for adding to my smiles today
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
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