Online brands slash gender specific advertising

There has been a 46 per cent drop in the proportion of online stores using gender to categorise toys, according to the campaign group Let Toys Be Toys. This is a marked fall from its initial survey findings two years ago.

The report claims brands such as Tesco, Asda, Boots, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Hamley’s, Ocado and Selfridges all dropped gender focused categories on their company websites in the past year.

The survey reviewed 54 separate websites that sell toys and children’s books. Each website was visited between 1 and 21 November in 2014 by reviewers. The group mainly looked at the navigation websites used for selling toys and books, but still has work to do on getting brands to change gender stereotyping on packaging for products.

“We’ve seen substantial changes on the high street since we started campaigning, with major stores such as Debenhams and M&S dropping ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ signage, and we’re really happy to see this shift reflected on the web,” said campaigner Jess Day.

This is positive news, after a range of critique that many brands faced for separating ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ sections in store, or colour-coding them in pink and blue. Notably Ed Miliband criticised the advertising industry for gender stereotyping in July 2013.

In February 2014, Morrison’s made the decision to implement price-based navigation for toys instead of the traditional pink and blue after it was criticised by Let Toys Be Toys to have the “most-gendered” in-store signage.

Over 12,000 people have signed the Let Toys Be Toys petition, which asks that retailers in the UK and Ireland remove gender labels to organise toys. Brands such as Toys R Us, Debenhams, Boots, Hobbycraft and Next have all removed gendered signage from stores.


Secret Marketer

Do agency pitch teams need to be more gender balanced?

David Coveney

A couple of months ago I mentioned that I was going out to pitch for a new agency to join my creative roster. I received a few negative comments from Marketing Week readers at the time: that it was wrong of me to initially meet with 10 agencies, even though as I’d pointed out, these were ‘fireside chats’ – with five incumbent agencies and five ‘new’ agencies – as it was my intention to reduce the list to a two-agency roster (one I had pre-selected) from these 10. It seemed only fair to give all the incumbents a crack of the whip and I was also keen to see some fresh thinking – hence the larger number of chemistry meetings than I would normally hold in such a situation.


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