Breaking the Binary

They have asked you to redesign an advertising strategy to be more inclusive to children of all genders and break the stereotypes of “girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys”.

Task Force: Breaking the Binary


You have been hired as part of the new marketing team for Mattel toy company. They have asked you to redesign their advertising strategy to be more inclusive to children of all genders and break the stereotypes of “girls’ toys” and “boys’ toys”. 

Why Are We Doing This?

Historically, toys, clothes, and other children’s items have been marketed heavily based on gender. Some examples of this include coloring items pink and blue, marketing things like dolls and kitchen sets for girls, while marketing trucks and science toys for boys. These marketing strategies feed into existing stereotypes about men and women in society and they also leave out trans and nonbinary children. 


  1. Research some toy advertising campaigns that use gender stereotypes. Choose one or two to focus on and answer these questions about each: 
    1. What stereotype is it using? 
    2. How would you change the advertisement or product to make it more gender-inclusive? 
  2. Research what Mattel and other toy companies have said about this issue. 
    1. Are they committed to fixing the gendered stereotypes in their products and marketing campaigns? 
    2. What recommendations would you make to them about their policies? 
  3. Now, choose a toy or set of toys and design your own marketing campaign for it. Think about: 
    1. How would you market this toy without using gender stereotypes?
      1. Would you change the color? Function? Images? 
      2. What words and ideas can you use to market this toy? 
      3. How can you make sure your toy is marketed as inclusive to trans and nonbinary chilren?  
  4. Think through the possible objections to your suggested changes.  
  5. Share with the group and see if you can convince them that your campaign will help solve the issue of gender stereotypes in the toy industry. 

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • You do not have to come up with an exhaustive list of procedures for your plan. It’s better to come up with a few ideas that you feel confident with and spend time thinking through possible objections to them. 
  • You don’t have to worry about answering all possible objections, but you should have some defense of why you think your campaign would work. 
  • Your suggestions should be things that companies could realistically implement.