After decades of Kinder Surprise eggs with fun toy surprises for everyone, in 2013 the Ferrero company launched pink and blue Kinder Surprise eggs. Jessica Holland explains why she felt strongly enough about this to launch a petition against them – but it seems Ferrero aren’t troubled by consumers’ concerns…
Sign Jessica’s petition on change.org: Ferrero stop making sexist Kinder Eggs
It’s been nearly a year now since I first saw, with huge disappointment and disgust that Ferrero had decided to start using gender stereotyping in their marketing campaign for the Kinder Egg. The first time I saw the ridiculous blue / pink eggs on the shelf, my jaw dropped to the floor. Had they seriously chosen to do this? In 2014? >
Kinder’s website states their mission as follows:
Kinder supports you in raising happy children by providing unique products and experiences that enhance moments of joy everyday and on special occasions. This is a fundamental ingredient for their growth and development.
But seething conversations about the consequences of backwards marketing campaigns like this on the next generation weren’t going to change anything. I decided I needed to take action.
The response to my petition on Change.org has been phenomenal, with over 11,000 signatures.
It seems this outrageous campaign has caused a lot of people to get angry too – check out the response on Twitter.
How have Ferrero responded?
When the petition hit 10,000 signatures, I felt it was time for more action. After initial disappointment (I was blocked on LinkedIn by the UK Brand Manager, Davina Hall, for asking for a suitable email address) I eventually tracked her down via Facebook, and got a response to contact the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sadly, the response I got was very disappointing.
We recognise that pink and blue are often associated with girls and boys. However, it is important to us that we don’t advocate or promote Kinder Surprise pink and blue as a gender-specific product. That’s why we don’t label them for girls and boys. We believe parents should choose what is most appropriate and relevant for their child.
Kinder Surprise pink and blue eggs help parents navigate the toy ranges on offer and make purchasing decisions based on what is most relevant for their child, as an individual. Feedback from parents shows that they welcome this approach.
The Kinder Surprise pink and blue eggs are available for limited periods of time, with the more familiar white eggs available for the rest of the year. Watch out for those white eggs, if that is what you prefer.
Thank you again for writing to us about Kinder Surprise; we are grateful to you for your interest.
Hmmm… Some points they have clearly missed here.
1)“We recognise that pink and blue are often associated with girls and boys”
Isn’t it time we stopped that? Take some social responsibility Kinder! Perhaps take the time to see how damaging and limiting gender stereotypes can be.
There is a plethora of psychological research to back up this claim. Dr. Carter Bruce’s paper, “Cognitive Aspects of Sex-Role Development” provides clinical research evidence that gender specific toys play a significant role in socialization that leads to recognized principles of sex role development later in life.
In other words, reinforcing these stereotypes is really bad news for anyone who believes in equality. This research has been around for nearly 20 years, so why are brands like Ferrero still ignoring the real dangers in advocating outdated gender stereotypes?
2) “That’s why we don’t label them for girls and boys.”
The displays in most UK shops don’t explicitly label the eggs for girls and boys, but we know that’s not always the case.
— faranaaz (@faranaaz) October 28, 2014
Children and adults understand the colour coding, and in some cases parents have told of shop staff trying to correct them if they’ve picked up the ‘wrong’ egg.
3) “Pink and blue eggs help parents navigate the toy ranges”
Hang on, isn’t the USP of this product that you get a “surprise”. No navigation required, thanks Kinder!
4) “The Kinder Surprise pink and blue eggs are available for limited periods of time”
Sadly, I’ve been following this product line since I started my campaign in 2013. Every time I step into a shop, I see the blue / pink range. I haven’t seen a white egg for months. The current promotional push relates to a brand-new range of Barbie Fashionista and Transformer toys.
5) Feedback from parents shows that they welcome this approach.
Take note Kinder, many don’t. Take a look at the comments on the petition for a few examples.
Cashing in on gender stereotypes
Ferrero are happy to brush off criticism because relying on tired old gender stereotypes is a successful marketing technique, as this article in The Grocer shows.
But it’s not OK to make a fast buck at the expense of feeding children limiting messages about what’s for girls and what’s for boys along with their chocolate.
What can you do?
If you haven’t already taken action, please take a few moments to do the following:
1) Sign the change.org petition and join the 11,000+ people already taking a stand against this ridiculous marketing campaign.
2) Let Ferrero know we are not going away. Send an email to the following email address: email@example.com
Points to consider for your email…
- Gender stereotypes are limiting to children’s development. Promoting them to children via advertising and marketing is irresponsible.
- Ferrero should return to the wonderful gender-neutral product that has been enjoyed by generations of children.
- As a responsible business, trusted by parents to provide a quality product, Ferrero should consider the impact of its marketing campaigns in the future.