Gender-neutral Dolls for Creating Your Own World

Barbie dolls have been around for 60 years and have mirrored many of the changes in culture and society. Barbie has been a politician, actress, musician, doctor, nurse, astronaut, and more. But there is a point where no matter how many changes Barbie goes through, she will always be seen as the iconic Barbie doll, and that doll does not reflect how many children view themselves and their world.

Today’s society increasingly is rejecting labels and embracing diversity. Mattel’s new line of dolls – the Creatable World doll – is still high-fashion, but the dolls reject labels and invite everyone to play. The dolls are designed as gender-neutral and can therefore be dressed and accessorized to adopt to many types of children – male, female, transgender, gender-fluid, and non-binary. In other words, the Creatable World dolls can be turned into virtually every different child’s gender and appearance.

The dolls look like a 7-year old child and have makeup-free, polished faces. There are various wigs, accessories, and clothing wardrobes. Dolls come with versatile pieces of clothing that give kids the freedom to make the characters whoever they want them to be. The dolls give kids a blank canvas with which they can create their own characters. Mattel uses the hashtag #AllWelcome to encourage a world where everyone is invited to play.

What are you waiting for? Let’s play!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group 10 of their all-time favorite toys.
  2. Build the list of toys on the board and challenge students to examine the list.
  3. Are these toys gender-neutral, or are they directed at boys or girls only?
  4. Discuss with students how toys can reflect society and cultures.
  5. Show the video: https://youtu.be/-hGu4hPSNXI
  6. View the dolls at Mattel: https://www.mattel.com/en-us/creatable-world
  7. What other toys could use this approach?
  8. How should Mattel market the new dolls?

Sources: Lee, C. S. (26 September 2019). Mattel releases line of gender-neutral Creatable World Dolls. Advertising Age.

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Where’s the Meat?

In case you haven’t noticed, there are a growing number of meatless ‘meat’ products now available at both grocery stores and restaurants. In the past few months alone, several fast food chains launched chicken-free chicken and meatless burgers to their offerings, and all seem to delight customers who are looking for plant-based alternatives to meat.

In one instance, KFC supplied an Atlanta franchise with faux-meat chicken from Beyond Meat called the ‘Beyond Fried Chicken’. Customers arrived before the doors even opened and the restaurant sold out of its supplies in just five hours! Of course, social media was responsible for the rush to test, but nonetheless, selling out what was supposed to be a several day experiment in less than a day says a great deal about the changing consumer tastes.

Burger King is already established in the meat-free burger category and has been selling the ‘Impossible Burger’, using the plant-based patties from Impossible Meats. White Castle is also in the mix with its ‘Impossible Slider’ (also from Impossible Meats), also sold nationwide.

And last, but not least, McDonald’s has jumped into the meatless game with its ‘PLT’ burger from Beyond Meat – plant, lettuce, and tomato. While today the PLT is only available in Ontario, Canada, it seems likely to make the move to a national distribution as well.

What’s going on? What are these new ‘meats’? The term ‘meatless meats’ is a contentious point, but the products are made by combining plant-based fats, binders, fruit and vegetable-based colors and flavor to create a fibrous texture of meat (no animal components). While these types of products have existed for a number of years, they were commonly marketed only to vegetarians and vegans. Today’s new plant-based meats are aimed directly at meat-eaters, particularly consumers who are concerned about climate change and eliminating animal products from their diets. However, plant-based meats are not typically as healthy as eating unprocessed vegetables and beans and meat consumption is still increasing worldwide. The burgers are often high in calories and fats.

Are you hungry?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review meatless meat products and meals as needed:
    1. McDonald’s PLT burger: https://youtu.be/StVR1njx2ow
    2. KFC meatless chicken: https://youtu.be/U-imMy7Ohik
    3. Burger King Impossible Whopper: https://youtu.be/N9FED3jkNTo
    4. Impossible Whopper: https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper
    5. The Better Meat Co: https://www.bettermeat.co/
    6. Beyond Meat: https://www.beyondmeat.com/
    7. Impossible Foods: https://impossiblefoods.com/
    8. Carl’s Jr Burger calorie: https://www.carlsjr.com/menu/nutritional_calculator/beyond-famous-star-with-cheese
  2. Discuss the five factors of an environmental scan: Social trends, technology trends, competition, economic trends, and legal/regulatory factors.
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team use their laptops or mobile devices to discover at least two points in each of the five categories of an environmental scan.
  4. Debrief the exercise by compiling information on the white board.
  5. Do these factors show why companies are embracing the new foods?
  6. Extra video: If students are interested, a scholarly video about climate change and food can be found at: https://youtu.be/8miQs3mPGu8

Sources: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Associated Press, and other news sources

 

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Back-to-school Shopping includes Bulletproof Backpacks

By now most students have returned to school and many have new school supplies. You know the drill – it’s time to stock up on supplies such as pencils, laptops, notebooks, folders, and bulletproof backpacks. Wait – what? Bulletproof backpacks? Is that even a thing?

Unfortunately, yes, bulletproof backpacks have become a school accessory that helps to counter fears of school shootings. It’s not just parents who worry about mass shootings, students worry as well. According to Pew Research, nearly 60% of U.S. teenagers between 13 and 17 said they were “very” or “somewhat” worried that a shooting could happen on their campus. And when we have a fear, we also have a need to counteract that fear however we can. Thus, bulletproof backpacks whose sales have risen more than 200% after the latest school shooting.

These backpacks are not even a rarely-sold novelty, nor are they cheap. According to some companies that manufacture the $180 – $205 backpacks (along with inserts and other gear), many retailers have sold out over the year. The packs are of course sold at some specialty stores, but it may surprise you to find out that even Office Depot and OfficeMax have sold the product.

What are you using to carry school supplies?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students as to what would be on back-to-school shopping lists.
  2. Show a video to explain the products: https://youtu.be/C5gsk-3hiIE
  3. Show product examples:
    1. https://premierbodyarmor.com/collections/school-safety?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI75n8mpSh5AIVj8DACh06bQBMEAAYAiAAEgLKNPD_BwE
    2. https://www.bulletblocker.com/bullet-proof-backpack-shield.html
  4. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  5. For this product, what is the target market?
  6. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for bulletproof backpacks. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.

Source: Smith, D. (8 August 2019). Bulletproof backpacks? Deadly shootings have parents adding to back-to-school list. Sacramento Bee.

 

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