GoldieBlox, the startup behind “Engineering Toys for Girls” and star capital-raiser on Kickstarter, may have blazed a trail by marketing construction toys to girls. But it may be the venerable, and long-criticized, LEGO brand that finally has gotten it just right in terms of how to properly engage this largely overlooked segment of its audience.
LEGO recently parried years of criticism with a new TV ad that focuses on the imaginative powers of play in young girls — a paean to the relationship that they can have with toys that traditionally haven’t been marketed to them, as dolls and costumes have — and a call for them to #KeepBuilding.
GoldieBlox made a name for itself by creating an entire brand aimed at appealing to young girls to think outside the box about their interests and capabilities. At a time when everyone from Girl Scouts leaders to female CEOs such as GM’s Mary Barra are encouraging more young women to consider careers in the STEM disciplines, GoldieBlox’s business model led to a commercial breakout.
Meanwhile, LEGO had long been getting heat from women, not only over its infrequent marketing toward girls but also a general lack of female characters in its toy sets — aside from those dressed in pink and focused on appearance and beauty. The pressure led the brand to embrace a crowdsourced effort to get more non-traditional female characters into its play sets as minifigures when it added a chemist, an astronomer and a paleontologist a couple of years ago.
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But with its new ad, LEGO shows that it may actually be realizing the potential of this demographic. The 60-second spot, produced by Union Made Creative, is what AdWeek recently called “a lovely meditation on moms and daughters and the independence that both inspires and is reinforced by imaginative play.”
A young girl is shown at play, much of it involving LEGOs and her own fantasy presentations of her toys. Among her creative activities are building and flying a LEGO helicopter, making a LEGO maze for her hamster and putting on a play for her parents starring a homemade cast of LEGO characters.
In a voiceover that seems to address her mother, the girl says, “I don’t always want you to help. Do you know why? I want to figure it out on my own. Even when it doesn’t turn out the way I want. I know it’s not wrong. Because you taught me how to think. And how to dream. I’m about to make something. That I know will make you proud.”
It’s an important and empowering message that, if LEGO has its way, will ideally become the perfect Christmas gift for about half of the children in America.