I remember when I was a kid I would drag my mom to the nearest Toys “R” Us store to buy me the newest Lego X-Pod. Meanwhile other girls were playing dress-up with Barbies, I found more amusement in creating a unique masterpiece out of my Lego pieces. Some may consider this a defiance of gender norms, however, like at the time, 4-year-old Riley strongly argues, “Why do all the girls have to buy pink stuff”?
Following the controversial release of the 2012 “Lego Friends” line, which gives into gender stereotypes, young girls like Riley spoke out to express the sentiment that boys’ and girls’ toys should not be based on gender differences. In the video, Riley claims that “the companies who make these, try to trick the girls into buying the pink stuff instead of stuff the boys want to buy, right?” Here, she defines a very clear awareness in the marketing strategies Lego has attempted to utilize in their conceptualization of the Lego Friends collection (there’s no fooling the incredibly wise Riley, is there?!). The Lego Friends collection is depicted by a group of slender doll figurines that do “girly things” together. Prior to this, Lego had been a pioneer in fostering child creativity for both boys and girls.
A 1981 Lego ad, that reads “What it is is beautiful,” pictures a young girl in denim overalls and braids, holding her masterful Lego creation. Here, the product is demonstrated as being equally entertaining for a young girl as it is for a young boy and makes no mention of gender stereotypes, but rather is a “universal building set” for all kids. After the extremely controversial release of Lego Friends, parents, women and especially girls, petitioned for companies, such as Lego, to cease such gender-based marketing strategies and make efforts to recognize that both girls and boys may be interested in one particular toy and should not have to feel discriminated in any way when choosing to play with it.
After years of discussion, it seems as though Lego has finally gotten the message. Lego has reestablished girl empowerment through their recent, inspiring 60-second advertisement, “Inspire Imagination and Keep Building,” created by the agency, Union Made Creative. In the commercial, a young girl narrates her thought process for creation while using Legos. The girl explains that she knows that no matter what she creates, she will make her parent proud because she used her own creative initiative to make something unique and powerful. Lego aims to reinforce the idea that Legos were made for all types of kids, no matter what gender they may be and that Legos foster creativity in a way in which no other toy can compare to.