Lego just released an ad that is long on imagination and short on gender stereotypes—and it’s aimed at young girls and their mothers.
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The ad features the voiceover of a little girl talking to her mother about imagination, support and boundaries. “You taught me to think and dream,” she says. This girl wants to make mistakes and she wants to do it her own way:
Lego has received a significant amount of flack lately—and not just from me. GoldieBlox, and other similar toy manufacturers, have been promoting STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) items and the empowerment of young girls, while Lego continues to push their hair salons and pop stars sets. The predominately pink Lego Friends line is chock-full of female stereotypes, while the minifigures in other sets are overwhelmingly male. Earlier this year, Lego released a popular female scientist minifig set, and it sold out quickly. However, Lego isn’t alone in this type of gender stereotyping—according to a recent study, toys are more divided by gender today than they were 50 years ago.
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This recent Lego ad makes me feel the company has been listening to the criticism and is trying to respond in a genuine, enlightened way. As CNET wrote: “when you’re an enormous global brand, it’s worth alerting yourself to the realities of modern life before it’s too late.”
I hate to quibble: The ad is definitely a step in the right direction, despite the emphasis on the Lego Friends line—but it’s a commercial, and they are just touting their products. My big issue is with what the little girl says to her tearful mother at the very end of the ad: “I just want to build something that I know will make you proud.” Can you imagine a boy saying that in a Lego ad? I don’t want my daughter—or my sons—to build fantastical structures, try new things, be creative or even become a doctor just so they can hear me say I’m proud of them. I’m already proud of them. I just want Lego to create some great, gender-neutral products for them. And then advertise them in a way that doesn’t pigeon-hole them.
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So, a firm seven out of 10 for Lego on this recent ad. Yay, Lego, I’m proud of you!