Stride Rite is the latest brand to piss off parents everywhere. Their new ads have two very different messages for boys and girls. The ad for girls says, “Run, Skip, Twirl, Wish Like A Princess.” The ad for boys says, “The Power Of Darth Vader.” As you may have guessed, the girls ad is awash in pink, purple and stars and the boys ad is all primary colors. Yawn.
After passing one of these ads in a storefront in her California neighborhood, Margot Magowan, wrote a letter to Stride Rite and posted it on her blog:
Unfortunately, we will no longer be shopping at Stride Rite.The way you guide girls to one side of your store and boys to the other is manipulative and destructive. My youngest child chose her orange shoes from the “boy” side, but every year, my kids get more influenced by marketing such as yours. Their choices become more limited as they repeatedly see that girls are supposed to be so radically different than boys, only wear certain colors, and behave in a certain “feminine” way. For as long as I can, I hope to protect my kids from learning that boys are valued for what they do, while girls are valued for how they appear. That means not shopping at Stride Rite.
She’s right (also, her blog is awesome). This type of marketing is destructive. I loved pink, but I also loved superheroes. We need to send messages to young girls that they are also powerful forces – and don’t need to spend their lives “twirling and wishing.” It’s important that we constantly raise objection to this type of marketing so companies get the message.
Of course, the most powerful way to object is by withholding your dollars. Until companies like Stride Rite get the message, the best way to get their attention is by affecting their bottom lines.