By now you might have heard about the ad for girl’s toys set to parody of Beastie Boy’s song, “Girls.” While the ad itself has been pulled for personal reasons including a deceased band member citing in his will that he never wanted to ad to be used in Advertising, the momentous fanfare the ad has gained in it’s short life span has taken on a life of it’s own. The conversation here is about girls and the opportunities made available to them. If your industry caters to girls, you should have been paying attention because the tidal wave has been building for quite some time in just this specific niche. For starters, you had a little girl rant and rave about how she hated pink. More recently you had a Catholic School run a Halloween advertisement with an image of a princess paired with a “life’s not a fairytale” subtext. The narrative here is clearly gender roles and it’s ripe for the picking. Along comes GoldieBlox and picks it right up in a riotous and fun-filled way.
The first rule of narrative marketing is to find the conversation, and GoldieBlox did just that. A set of engineering toys for girls, GoldieBlox is designed to help them step away from tiaras and opt for toolboxes instead. The toys are inspired and designed by founder Debbie Sterling, a Stanford grad who was shocked at the despairing ratio of female students in her engineering classes. Pairing a real-life gap in the market with a budding conversation, Sterling rides the wave by designing an entire product around a market gap.
However, not all consumers are sold. Some are skeptical about the toy being a threshold for future female inventors. Slate, for example, ran an article questioning whether the toys “really combat the princess-industrial complex,” or whether they contribute to it. It can be argued that there are plenty of ‘boy’ toys that do a better job of encouraging engineer skills, that are more complex, and that step away from a fairy-tale feel that some feel Goldiblox still carries in it’s simplistic design. Slate, for example, offers eight better alternatives, including a science kit, a digital microscope, and classic toys like Snap Circuits.
The Irish Time also questions Goldieblox’s ability to “disrupt the pink aisle,” by questioning the “pink ribbons and its princess pageant storylines.” They feel that “for all its talk of creating engineers and inventors, it is still squeezing girls back in the same, saccharine pink bubble.” Interesting, both the Irish Time sand Sterling agree that girls are natural storytellers; we flock to stories. Here’s where we have our second principle, and that’s the narrative itself. It’s not only girls who are natural storytellers; humans are natural storytellers. It’s a concept that Sterling was really able to harness during the crowd-funding initiative to launch Goldieblox; there’s a natural story behind her concept, the product, and the market. It practically tells itself.
The third concept is changing the conversation. This is a natural evolution for Goldieblox, which in its nature is designed to challenge the status quo – and it seems to have worked flawlessly. While I’ve been following Goldieblox since Sterling first launched the Kickstarter campaign, I’m happy to say that Goldieblox is now a more common household name in most families simply due to the explosively clever commercial that has three girls using gender-assigned ‘girl’ toys to map out an intricate Rube Goldberg machine that kicks off like a domino effect.
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