Very Interesting Data on the Vocabulary of Toy Advertisements

From “The Achilles Effect”, a terrific set of visualized data:

Word Cloud: How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes

There are two fascinating word clouds, one for boys and one for girls.

BOYS TOYS

GIRLS TOYS

(Click MORE if you don’t mind hearing me rant a little…)

One further point, I feel I have to make… I read a few of the comments at the bottom, which in general is bad for my blood pressure, and today is no different. One person writes that parents unwittingly perpetuate gender stereotypes, for example moms who are ‘girly’ just naturally make their daughters so as well.

Okay, here’s the thing. First, marketers spend billions on targeting children with their ads. They don’t market guns to boys and pink ponies to girls just because it’s easier. They employ armies of child psychologists to analyze children’s every wish and whim and then mobilize to appeal to those desires. If they seem to think that girls like pink, that belief actually has a base in reality. 80% of the 5-year-old girls I know don’t just love pink because they see it in stores. Isn’t it possible that they actually do like pink? The problem lies when marketers think every girl likes pink, resulting in the green-loving girls not finding the same plethora of merchandise in their favourite colour.

Next, children are people. They have their tastes, their likes and dislikes, and anyone who has had any dealings with children at all knows that they rarely coincide entirely with their parents’ likes and dislikes, even at a very young age. Let me offer up myself as an example. I am not blindly dishing up frilly, girly clothes and toys for my daughter. I am pretty much the least girly mom I know – I buy those sparkly, pinky things because she LIKES them, WANTS them, PREFERS them at every turn. She has a mind!

Grr. I should never read comments. At any rate, these two word clouds are still fascinating, as a reflection of a vicious cycle: child tastes mirrored back to them but amplified a thousand times and reduced in range and variety.

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.