LEGO Group has been in the toy business for 80 years. As one of the top toy companies in the world, LEGO has effectively brought games and fun to children of all ages, and both genders, all around the word. Often adding specialty LEGO sets to reflect current trends – such as Star Wars, super heroes, video games, and cartoon characters –the company actively works to stay on top of new ideas and trends.
Keeping in that tradition, in December 2011, the company brought a new LEGO toy line to market – this one aimed solely at girls. The LEGO Friends line was designed specifically for girls, giving them building toys to create new communities of friends. The new line reflects girls preferences for more social types of games, as compared to the smash-‘em-up games seemingly favored by boys. But wait… isn’t the company just perpetuating a gender stereotype of how boys and girls play differently?
Some people think the company is indeed reinforcing old stereotypes and the new product line has generated controversy on a very large scale. Using social activist site Change.org, more than 55,000 people have made their opinions known and have signed a petition against the new product line. The result is that LEGO officials were set to meet recently with the two 20-year olds who began the social movement to discuss the issue and concerns.
Social activist sites such as Change.org and others are changing the way consumers make their preferences known, and they are helping to build social activism on a very large scale. The site – www.change.org – is a social action platform designed to empower people anywhere to start campaigns to change the world. The petition was started by several 20-year old members of the “girl-fueled organization, SPARK movement” in response to the company’s girl-oriented LEGO blocks. SPARK – at www.sparksummit.com – is a girl-fueled activist movement fighting against the sexualization of women and girls in media.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Have students quickly browse through LEGO’s Web site to familiarize themselves with the company and products: www.lego.com
- Ask students what they believe the issue is with the new line of LEGO Friends. Does this product line reflect the company’s brand, mission, and values? Are there other potential problem areas for the company?
- Next, bring up the Change.org site: www.change.org.
- What is the mission of Change.org? How does it operate? What changes has it helped to facilitate in society around the world?
- After discussion about Change.org, continue the topic by showing the SPARK movement site: http://www.sparksummit.com/
- What are some of the issues that SPARK has addressed? How does it operate?
- Are there other social activist sites on the Internet? How are they used?
- How do these new social activist sites change marketing? What do companies need to be aware of as they tackle potentially risky topics?
Source: Brandchannel.com, 4/20/12; Huffington Post, 1/12/12; NPR News