Senior officials at Hasbro hosted a meeting Monday that could have major repercussions for toy marketing. It was with a teenager from Garfield, N.J.
At issue is the Easy-Bake Oven, which is marketed in pink and purple. McKenna Pope wanted one for her brother in a less-feminine color, and wrote the company to that effect. Her quest won support from more than 30,000 people on an online petition and famous chefs who voiced their support in a YouTube video.
But this isn't a tale of social-media might; it's one of social change. Even in this era of blurred boundaries, if you ask 6-year-olds to name a boy toy or a girl toy, they will have no trouble doing so. The question is whether it's society -- peers, parents, teachers -- telling them what's what, or whether marketers are at fault for "pinking up" toys, running TV ads that only show boys with guns or asking "Boy or girl?" before doling out Happy Meals. Better yet, is it the responsibility of the $21 billion U.S. toy industry to become a change agent in the gender-bias toy battle?
It seems like a can't-win situation. Take Lego, criticized earlier this year for a new line of building bricks that targets girls with its curvy Lego figurines who live in Heartlake City and have a beauty shop. Mega Bloks Barbie came out last week and is already getting the same kind of scrutiny. However, the toys are also raking in dollars. Lego Friends sales doubled expectations for the first half of the year and are on Amazon and Target 's hottest holiday toy lists.