Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swedish Schoolkids Censure Toys R Us

US-based toy retailer Toys"R"Us has been reprimanded for gender discrimination following a complaint filed by a group of Swedish sixth graders about the store’s 2008 Christmas catalogue.

This is interesting for many reasons, and I'm going to list several of them here. Firstly, there is a body in Sweden designed to hold advertisers to task, and while it has no legal authority, it exists and seems to be newsworthy.

Secondly, their school curriculum clearly includes some basic lessons in marketing and advertising. I was very lucky in junior high in that I had a speech class that was mandatory and included many lessons on manipulation and media manipulation, it really gave me a different perspective.

Finally, the kids observations were that by limiting the gender of who was playing with each toy, they also pointed out that it created a lack of interest in the toy in the opposite gender, when a sales bottom line would say that if you appeal to both genders, you would sell more product.

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