Why Challenging Lego Matters

It seems that everyday there is a new take on the great Lego Friends Debacle. Each one is just as thoughtful and brilliant as the next. All of our favorite friends and orgs have had something to say about the incident and happily, for me personally, even moms I know in real life and chat with at my children’s school have turned their noses up at the new Lego line and the way it’s being marketed.

I’m still not exactly clear on whom Lego consulted when coming up with this new line, but it was apparently not any of the moms in my real or online life.

This has given me a great deal of joy in knowing that I am not alone in my feelings of frustration with Lego, a company in all honesty, I have loved my whole life. And we continue to support and encourage the ever growing list of names on Change.org’s petition (Sign here if you haven’t already).

I have to say I dearly loved the idea to post the classic Lego advertisement from the 1980s to the Lego Facebook wall, and with all the people and orgs that followed suit it’s easy to see that we were not the only ones. But since than I have seen something else via Facebook, especially during the holiday, pictures of girls playing with the Lego’s they got for Christmas. Not the friends Lego sets, but regular Lego sets. Harry Potter Lego Sets. Pirates of the Caribbean Lego Sets, etc.

My own daughter included.

And these are not girls who are part of a campaign. Not young models or parents trying to make a statement. These are real girls playing with regular Legos, because they like them. They don’t want revamped versions.

I’ve seen people on the Lego Facebook page defend the Lego friend’s sets, and try to make light of the message all the opponents of the sets are trying to get out there. But our message to Lego, and advertisers isn’t small. And it DOES matter.

In a recent post on Pigtail Pals written by our good friend Lori Day made some fabulous observations about the harmful effect of marketing and media messages. Lori brought up a brilliant analogy.

Remember when it was legal to advertise smoking?

Think about this for a moment. Once upon a time this kind of advertising was widely accepted by the American public. It was years of research proving the harmful effects of smoking, the harmful influence of advertising smoking and small groups of parents that grew larger and larger and larger that eventually turned smoking advertising into very distant memory. In fact for most adults of MY generation, because the US broadcast advertising for tobacco became illegal in the US on Jan. 1, 1971 under the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1966, it seems strange to ever think there was a time when cigarette commercials on TV even existed.

And granted, comparing Tobacco to the Lego friends line is a stretch. BUT, this type of gender marketing and stereotyping is part of the bigger problem. And the effects are very real as seen here, and here. So it’s not just about calling out Legos. It’s not just about pink bricks and Lego figures with breasts. It’s so much more.

It’s making sure companies across the nation understand that it’s time to change. It’s about discussing with our young SheHeroes why they are better then the marketing campaigns targeted towards them. It’s about educating young women, who are soon to be young mothers about the dangers of mass gender stereotyping and marketing.

It’s about using our voice to call for change so the next generation of SheHeroes will actually see change. Real change. Positive change.

Maybe someday my granddaughters will look at some of the advertising of today and think how strange it was that marketing like that was ever accepted. Maybe. 

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