Cult toys socially responsible transformation

Lego and Mattel have been the undisputed leaders of the toy market for years. At the same time, the creators of the world's most famous building blocks and the world's most famous doll have long been under massive criticism. Both companies are accused, among other things, of promoting inappropriate role models and a false, stereotypical perception of gender among children. Especially in the case of the manufacturer of Barbie, customer protests have slowly started to take their toll on sales. It is not surprising, then, that after several decades of slow evolution, both the Barbie doll and Lego bricks finally decided to make a revolution that was appropriate to social change. A revolution that resonated in the media space.

The Barbie doll is an indispensable playmate for little girls, a fact confirmed by statistics - one item is sold on average every three seconds. Throughout her 57-year career, Barbie has invariably possessed the figure of a top model with impeccable beauty. Over the years, new incarnations of the doll have been limited mainly to princesses and models, with attributes in the form of clothes and cosmetics. This caused a wave of criticism, especially among parents, who rightly pointed out that children should not identify with such a shallow ideal. Mattel responded to the accusations with slow but gradual changes. Thus, the doll came in different complexions, showed that she was not afraid of any job and was freed from high-heeled shoes. The real breakthrough, however, came at the end of January this year, when the world's most famous doll finally changed her hitherto unreal proportions. The Barbie collection expanded with three new silhouettes: petite, tall and curvy. The whole is, of course, accompanied by an extensive PR and marketing campaign, the theme of which is the diverse understanding of beauty. - We believe that we have a responsibility to girls and their parents to promote a diverse understanding of beauty - confirms Evelyn Mazzocco, vice president and global general manager of the Barbie brand. Well, it remains to be hoped that Matell actually felt the onus of the responsibility, rather than a drop in sales and a negative perception of the brand....

So let's move on to Lego, which is serving up a similar revolution to its customers this year. To start with a tidbit - 7 Lego sets are sold every second in the world. Like Mattel, Lego has not escaped criticism due to the popularisation of a stereotypical approach to gender roles. To put it in a nutshell, in the Lego world, women just looked pretty and took care of the house, while men went on adventures as intrepid alpha males. Lego's response was, as you can easily guess, new sets of bricks in which women took on the role of hero scientists, becoming chemists, astronomers or palaeontologists. But we already know this movement from an earlier paragraph. The bricks made headlines last week when, at an industry trade show in London, the company unveiled a new figure depicting a person in a wheelchair. Mischief-makers commented that it took Lego, which over the years has marketed everything from warriors to celebrities to Star Wars heroes, 84 years to create a wheelchair figure. It should be added here that Lego did not come up with this alone. "Disabled" figurine is the result of the UK's "Toy like me" campaign to encourage companies to create toys that look like people with disabilities. End of story - the new figure has wowed customers, activist circles and media around the world.

The giants of the toy market are, paradoxically, finally showing what corporate social responsibility is and, by the way, how strongly CSR activities affect a company's image. The example of Lego and Mattel also confirms the public's growing awareness of the responsible and, in this case, educational role of an organisation in relation to its environment.


Author of the text: Martyna

Photo source: Mattel