Today in blogs, The Mary Sue has a very interesting post on Gender Marketing in Toys. The article is based on word clouds of the terms most used in commercials for toys marketing to boys and girls, respectively. The word clouds were designed by Crystal Smith, author of The Achilles Effect: What Pop Culture is Teaching Young Boys about Masculinity.
The biggest words in the boy cloud are “battle” and “power”. “Heroes”, “stealth”, “ultimate”, “rides”, and “beat” also make prominent appearances. So, I guess boys are supposed to be heroes by using their ultimate stealthy rides to beat… the bad guys?
The biggest words in the girl cloud are “love”, “fun”, and “magic”. It should probably be noted that “love” is three or four times bigger than any other word. ‘”Girl”, “friendship”, “change”, “babies”, “hair”, “mommy” and “style” are also pretty big. So, girls are supposed to have friendships with girls and change their hairstyle to get ready to be mommies to babies?
I guess it should be noted that the boy cloud includes “friends”, but it’s one of the smallest words featured, the same size as “dump” and “nemesis”… Small words in the girl cloud include “whirling”, “twirling”, and “paisley”.
Interestingly, many of the boy words are verbs or adverbs, and many of the girl words are nouns or adjectives. Boy toys are marketing towards doing and girl toys are marketing towards being.
Obviously, the discussion of gender and children’s marketing gets into some chicken and egg type questions. As The Mary Sue put it “Do kids respond to ads because they’re predisposed that way from birth? Or do they respond to the ads because they are taught to, by ads that have people of their gender responding in the same way?” I’m leaning more towards the latter than the former.