For the many thoughts that come and go unannounced and the ones which refuse to budge out of my head…

I am doing a thesis on toy ads and how toys are marketed reinforce gender stereotyping. Once it is done I’d make a post on all my findings but for now I would love some help from as many people as can be.
This is one aspect of the dissertation where a similar product uses different marketing styles for each of its target audience.
I would love if I could get your feedback on this aspect of my research.
Here are two ads of a product known as ‘Moon Sand’ which is a form of mold-able play sand (or clay) for kids to play with. Essentially the same product, both ads have been styled differently according to the target audience. Take a look:
1) Moon Sand Ocean Princess Commercial (click image to watch video on YouTube):
Synopsis:
Moon Sand™ is the amazing moldable, holdable, decoratable sand the never dries out!
Now you can create and explore your very own undersea world complete with amazing sea life creations and beautiful mermaid princess!
Use the glitter sand to mold Moon Sand™ sea horses, dolphins, and undersea friends for your Mermaid Princess to go on undersea adventures with!
2) Moon Sand Construction Commercial (click image to watch video on YouTube):
Synopsis:
Moon Sand™ is the amazing moldable, squish-able, build-able, demolish-able sand the never dries out!
The new Moon Sand™ Construction Sets each come with a rough and tumble construction worker, who’s built tough and ready for work!
Load your construction worker into the backhoe- then dig and demolish EVERYWHERE!
1) What did you think about these videos?
2) Did you see any difference in the way the product is marketed to its respective target audience (boys and girls), and if yes do you think it is necessary?
3) To what extent do you think this can be a factor that leads to gender stereotyping in children?
4) Do you think such a gendered preference in marketing style (and eventually children’s toy selection) is natural or does the media (and other factors) create it?
5) Any comments at all on the ads, you are free to mention.
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Comments on: "What is your feedback on the Gender of these?" (15)

  1. Both the Ads which cater to the same product, changes its content in order to appeal to young boys and girls respectively. The first ad is overtly soft in its appeal,, with the color pink all over it. it is largely known the color is associated with girls . but this tradition of relation, too is largely questionable, whether society frames such relations or the ads do that..Also the voice-over is also done by a female.

    The second ad with the voice of the male is , surprisingly, marketing the same product although with a completely different way, with construction activities as a background, usually characterized by masculinity. the marketing strategy for these toys are amusing, how the toy makers resort to gender stereotyping even for a taget group that is not beyond 10 years of age is shocking.

  2. There is a huge difference in the advertising depending upon the gender of the targeted audience.
    The sand moon princess shit uses pink (and we all know why) plus its interesting to see how they make a castle. Every girl has been told stories about castles and prince charmings, thus is a definite effort to play that up.

    On the other hand the same product is modeled to be more ‘manly’ with the very different use of colours and themes. Its about doing a ‘man’s’ job, building and stuff.

  3. Yes, sadly, it does end up stereotyping and in turn moulding gender roles. Women are never expected to work, build, create. They are expected to be nice ‘good’ princesses waiting for their knight-in-shining-armour to come and sweep them off their feet. It’s abou teaching a girl to be ‘homely’.

    On the other hand a guy, as mentioned before, should ‘man’ up. He has the daunting task of being the bread-winner and doing all the tough stuff while girls just look pretty. He must be outdoorsey, strong.

  4. Okay so i definitely sensed bitterness in AN’s comments, but when you look at it, as an advertising strategy it is quite effective, just exploits the preconceived notions that the society has held for generations together. As a pure capitalist concept and not really going into the sociological side of things, I think such an advertisement does serve its purpose and yes it is important for the company itself to market its products as such in order to garner a “healthy” market, and I do not use the word with a bad taste. Such advertisements just bolster the latent tendencies which are already sown in children since they developed the ability to comprehend what’s going on around them, just from day to day scenarios and to build up on such tendencies is a natural reaction of the market. So i wouldn’t say that these ideas occur naturally in children, but are fed to them since they were really young and the media does a brilliant job of just blowing things up to an entirely different scale. But, I think ( well this does not definitely apply to a lot of people ), that due to the dynamism of the human nature, such reactions can definitely be modified as one is exposed to various schools of thought through his/her developing years and cling on to a perception of things which make sense to him/her.

  5. The difference in the style of narration for both ads is obvious. I think ads like these play on already existing stereotypes of gender role and don’t really introduce anything new. It works because these ads though made for children’s toys, actually affect their parents a lot more than we think. Someone talked about the effectiveness of such a marketing strategy and I have to agree that it works. I’ll explain how. When kids grow up a bit, they make their own choices when it comes to toys. I remember pestering my mom for certain play sets or activity kits endlessly when I was closer to 8 or 10. But when I was younger, the toys I’d get would be my parents’ or relatives’ choice. A lot of parents want their children to grow up ‘proper’ and not ‘weird’ and intentionally introduce certain kinds of toys based on their ideas of gender-role. Fortunately idiotic parents don’t always rear idiotic kids and with time when we learn to question these things, we learn better.

  6. The two advertisements display a clear sense of perception regarding the kind of audience it intends to garner by making gender stereotyping as its strategy. But this should be of no shock as this is the way our society perceives and accept things. Therefore presenting what the society wants to see is rather a good marketing strategy. The advertisement demarcates on the basis of different shades of colours and personas describing the two genders. On the other hand, I also believe gender stereotyping is not something created by media but definitely being promoted by them through such advertisements in order to create market for its product.

  7. Prashanthi said:

    Everything about these ads- the composition, the narration, even the music in the background have been chosen strategically to convey a messages that are gender-distinct. The idea is to target the parents- adults with set notions, having already been exposed to these stereotypes in the lives they live as opposed to the children themselves. If you think about it, toys and everyday playthings are the most subtle and the easiest ways to feed ideas about gender and convey messages about specific gender roles as opposed to actually telling children – “you’re a girl, you can only do this..” or ‘you’re a boy, you can’t do this..” Its a sureshot way of getting children to mimic ideas and practices present in adult life..At this point , I am most reminded of Roland Barthes’ essay on Toys and the many meanings that are created through their use and sharing..Notions of children as ‘miniature adults’ and toys as preparation for their future adult life..As for whether this kind of gender-preferential marketing style is natural or mediated, I see it as a kind of parasitic relationship. The media and those who work with the media, have the ability to manipulate the representation of reality and choose what to depict and what to omit..the ideas that are propagated are prevalent in society today, marginal or popular, they still exist and the choice to pick up the idea and propagate it is left to he who controls the media. I am saying ‘he’ in particular, as I am questioning in whose hands lie the power of representation or who defines the boundary of representation- if this idea is juxtaposed against ideas of patriarchy in contemporary times. Since the real decision to buy these toys is made by the parent, it would be interesting to observe the ways in which the child accepts or rejects these toys. What are their responses when they are gifted the toy?..Something that puzzled me in seeing both these ads was how rooted in ‘real everyday life’ the construction ad is while the underwater princess ad tries to construct this realm of fantasy to which girls are relegated to..I mean, why an underwater world of all things?…why not something else..a gardener or something ( ofcourse, that is equally problematic)…I see that it would have been easier for the makers/ advertisers to justify a parallel reality as opposed to locating the girl in actual reality..Some food for thought..hope this suffices 🙂

  8. Hi AK,

    I definitely think there is a distinction between the way the same product is marketed to boys and girls. It not only reflects gender stereotyping on the part of the product manufacturers but also a societal outlook. As we know every product is moulded around a supply and demand concept. The demand for these is more because the parents themselves would want their boy/girl to naturally play/get accustomed with these gender roles.

    I feel that the style of marketing is only natural as it is exactly what society asks/wants. If they suddenly started selling the product for guys to girls, it would alarm parents and others. Thus, these ads are modeled around our perceptions rather than what the media would want to perceive of them.

    I definitely feel though that we must break out of these stereotypes. I remember going to a shoe store of a top brand in India to buy tennis shoes and all I found was shoes that were pink in color which I wouldn’t want. I feel that the market is well molded around demand and our mentality and we are the ones who’ll have to change it.

    Good luck!

    Deepika

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