Lego A/S debuted its new "Ready for Girls" campaign to celebrate International Day of The Girl, the latest of several inclusive branding efforts from the toy company. The campaign coincides with the release of research done by Lego and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media exploring the ways gender roles influence and limit play for children.
The campaign includes three short films celebrating entrepreneurial girls from across the world, as well as a 10-step guide to inclusive play. It was produced by The Lego Agency and will debut across Lego's social platforms.
This isn't Lego's first inclusive marketing initiative. The brand debuted its first pride collection in May, and in March Lego recreated its 1980s "What it is is beautiful" ad to mark International Women's Day.
"[Lego] clearly wants to take a leadership position by launching this 'Ready for Girls' campaign and really celebrating girls around the world to overcome old-fashioned gender stereotypes. And we're very supportive of their efforts because they really want to be leaders in this area, which I think is fantastic," said Geena Davis, actress, activist and founder of The Geena Davis Institute, which advocates for gender balance.
The data shows stigma around "girl toys" and "boy toys" among kids, finding 74 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls agree with the statement, "some activities are just meant for girls to do, while others are meant for boys to do."
"We found, for one thing, that girls are ready for the world, but society isn't really quite ready yet to support their growth," said Davis.
Julia Goldin, chief product and marketing officer for the Lego Group, sees the research as an opportunity for Lego help eliminate the gendered interpretations of toys.
"We believe there is a need for society to rebuild perceptions, actions and words to support the creative empowerment of all children and that the Lego Group has an important role to play in this process," Goldin said.
While the "Ready for Girls" campaign specifically focuses on girls, the data found boys to be more fearful of participating in activities or play deemed feminine. While 42 percent of girls worry about being made fun of for playing with "boy toys," 71 percent of boys worry about being made fun of for enjoying activities or toys typically associated with girls. The study posits two potential contributing factors to this trend: that girls have been actively encouraged to pursue male-dominated activities and the fact that men's endeavors tend to be valued more highly.
Parents are just as culpable as their kids, the study finds, reporting "they are almost six times as likely to think of scientists and athletes as men than women (85 percent vs. 15 percent) and over eight times as likely to think of engineers as men than women (89 percent vs. 11 percent)." Kid respondents held similar beliefs.
"It is interesting that girls are seeing themselves in a wider way, in a more evolved way, more than their parents are," Davis said.
The toy brand plans to continue pushing toward greater inclusion in play.
"We have been exploring different passion points and play patterns as well as communication to ensure the Lego brand remains relevant and is gender-inclusive for years. Our Lego Group global insights team is constantly looking at play patterns and perceptions towards play amongst children and their parents across the world," said Goldin.
Lego saw strong earnings in 2020, reporting roughly $7 billion in sales growth and the trend hasn't slowed in 2021 — the brand showed 46 percent growth in revenue during the first half of the year.