Adventure Barbie und Indestructible Baby Born nehmen Genderklischees in der Werbeindustrie auf die Schippe – Ein Videoprojekt des Englisch GK EF von Herrn Neunstöcklin

project résumé

Boys are strong and play with blue footballs, girls are sensitive and play with pink dolls. These are typical stereotypes but why do we think in these clichés?

When looking at children’s toy commercials, for example, one would get the impression that boys and girls live in two separate worlds, with each their own typical interests and tastes. In class, we analysed the Moonsandcommercials where this idea is incorporated, which in my opinion is a cliché in their marketing strategy. Both genders are targeted in a different way. This is demonstrated by looking at how different the boys’ commercial is from the girls’ one. For the boys’ commercial colours like blue, orange, black and grey are used. Furthermore, there is loud aggressive action music in the background and a dark brutal male voice speaking. Boys are promised that they can be like construction workers when they play with the sand. In the commercial for girls, however, Moonsandis presented using a high pitched female voice, colours like pink and purple are used and a magical atmosphere is created. The advertising promised that girls can create a “new world under the sea”.

With the use of specific voices or colours, the advertisers influence the viewers. When girls and boys watch these commercials they subconsciously learn that there is a difference between the genders and that they can’t be like the other gender. The viewer thinks that these clichés are not just a cliché but actually reality and that they have to live in such a way supporting the idea that there are two separate groups of genders with each their separate interests etc.

In this context we got the task to create our own commercials. In these commercials we tried to make the gender stereotypes ridiculous.

In the following I am going to focus on one of the self-made commercials. In the advertising about the Adventure Barbie, a female Barbie wearing pink clothes is converted into a male toy for boys. The boys can make the Barbie jump from or climb on trees. Furthermore, the Adventure Barbieis indestructible. With the use of military colours (e.g. green, black and grey) and action music a brutal and aggressive atmosphere is created. In addition to that, there are a high number of cuts and a fast male voice is used to underline the commercial message that the toy is rather for boys.

Doing this project I learned how much we are influenced by advertising. When you turn on the TV you often see commercials that are either for girls/women or for boys/men. Television commercials for girls are mostly pink, with slow or magical music. Typical advertising for boys is faster and more aggressive. There is a reason for this: There are clichés about what a boy or a girl should like. Advertisers use these clichés to sell us things and advertisers sell more when there are different products for girls and boys. Girls usually don’t play with all their brothers’ toys. Because in our heads we have the prejudice that things like cars or football cards are typical toys for boys. That’s why parents buy other typical girl toys, like dolls or Hello Kittystickers.

Apart from being able to sell more toys, as each gender in the family is forced to think it needs a gender-specific toy, it can be difficult to dare to be different for children. To dare for a boy, for example, to play with a doll or ask for a pink panda bear for his birthday. He can also subsequently even be teased by others for playing with this doll or just feel embarrassed because he wants to do this.

Advertising has put many clichés in our heads. More and more people are becoming aware of this and criticize the gender-specific marketing, which I think is a good thing. Apparently, some companies are slowly changing their marketing strategies and hopefully the cliché of girls and boys being so different will vanish in the future, thus making it easier for everyone to be themselves.

Clara van Haaren, EF