Morrisons next on Let Toys Be Toys hitlist after M&S agrees to gender-neutral toy marketing

Campaign group Let Toys Be Toys is planning to target Morrisons next as part of its campaign to end stereotyping in toy marketing after Marks & Spencer became the latest retailer to agree to gender-neutral toy packaging. 

Marks Spencer

Let Toys Be Toys, established in November 2012, wants retailers to stop marketing toys by gender by ending the use of signage such as “Boys’ toys” and “Girls toys’” or by colour-coding areas pink and blue.

A spokesperson says it plans to approach Morrisons “again” after reports from the high street found that it had the “most gendered” in-store signage. The campaign group claims that the supermarket initially agreed to update marketing in its stores by summer 2013.

Morrisons says its customers are happy with the way the firm merchandises toys because it helps them navigate the range. A spokesperson says it has no plans at present to change the way it displays toys.

M&S is the latest retailer to announce plans to introduce gender-neutral toy marketing after stores such as Tesco, Toys R Us, Next, Boots, Sainsbury’s and Debenhams all agreed to change the way they present toys this year.

Customers had complained on social media that M&S was marketing items according to stereotypes. It will now rebrand its “Boy’s Stuff” range, which features dinosaurs, racing cars and planes, to a simple graphic logo. The “Little Miss Arty” line, which includes fairies, princesses and a handbag decoration kit, will be renamed “Poppy and Blue” and use character-based branding.

M&S claims it has been planning the update for months. It made the decision public yesterday (18 December) after Labour MP Stella Creasy criticised the branding on Twitter, backing it up with a statement.

The retailer says: “We have listened carefully to feedback from our customers and by spring next year all of our toys will be gender neutral. We offer a wide range of fun and educational toys, which are designed to appeal to children regardless of gender.”

Let Toys Be Toys says the majority of stores contacted so far have agreed to make changes and claims that the number of toy departments separating toys into sections for boys and girls has fallen by 60 per cent in the past year. Reports from the high street suggest that a fifth of stores still market toys by gender, rather than genre, compared to half in the run-up to Christmas last year.

As well as approaching retailers, a spokesperson for Let Toys Be Toys says a big focus next year will be on toy manufacturers and publishers of kids’ books.

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