HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège
HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège

Barbies are for Girls and Legos are for Boys. The impact of featuring Boys and/or Girls in ads.

Lecomte, Léa ULiège
Promotor(s) : Delcourt, Cécile ULiège
Date of defense : 4-Sep-2023/8-Sep-2023 • Permalink :
Title : Barbies are for Girls and Legos are for Boys. The impact of featuring Boys and/or Girls in ads.
Translated title : [fr] Les Barbies sont pour les filles et les Legos pour les garçons. L'impact de la présence de garçons et/ou de filles dans la publicité
Author : Lecomte, Léa ULiège
Date of defense  : 4-Sep-2023/8-Sep-2023
Advisor(s) : Delcourt, Cécile ULiège
Committee's member(s) : Gillet, Anne ULiège
Language : English
Number of pages : 111
Keywords : [fr] gender, stereotype, advertising, children, toy industry, content analysis, experiment
Discipline(s) : Business & economic sciences > Marketing
Target public : Researchers
Professionals of domain
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en sciences de gestion, à finalité spécialisée en international strategic marketing
Faculty: Master thesis of the HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège


[fr] The marketing of toys based on gender is a crucial topic with significant implications for children’s perceptions and behavior. Research has shown that toy advertising plays a vital role in shaping children’s preferences and reinforcing gender stereotypes. Moreover, the prevalence of advertising aimed at children has grown significantly, despite efforts to reduce exposure. This research aims not only to shed light on the impact of gendered toy marketing and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive future for all children, but also measure the impact of diversity versus non-diversity of models in advertising. Through a qualitative study, taking the form of a content analysis, we will be able to identify the presence or not of gender stereotypes in a well-known Belgian toy company’s catalog, setting the groundwork for our quantitative study, namely an experiment conducted on children of elementary schools in Wallonia. The results of our studies have shown that there is an underrepresentation of girls in advertising and marketers use design features such as colors, shapes, symbols, and types of toys to implicitly indicate a toy’s gender appropriateness. Moreover, our experiment showed that children will be more attracted to a toy if they believe that it is targeted to their gender. In addition to that, we observed that the presence of diversity in the models portrayed with the advertised toy has an influence on their attractiveness towards it. Finally, we were able to identify the presence of moderating variables such as the child’s age, gender, and school environment. Our results suggest managers to produce ads featuring a diversity of genders, so that children challenge conventional gender representation. Additionally, marketers should favor the creation of neutral toys rather than gender-specific ones, to gradually fade the connection between toy features and distinct genders.



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  • Lecomte, Léa ULiège Université de Liège > Master sc. gest., à fin.


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