From Word Cloud

Word Cloud: How Toy Ad Vocabulary Reinforces Gender Stereotypes
by admin on March 28th, 2011

I’ve always wanted to do a “mash-up” of the words used in commercials for so-called boys’ toys. I did a little bit of this in my book, but now, thanks to Wordle, I can present my findings in graphic form. This is not an exhaustive record; it’s really just a starting point, but the results certainly are interesting.

A few caveats:

  • I focused on television commercials alone (not web videos or website toy descriptions).
  • The companies represented here are the big ones who can afford TV advertising. I looked most closely at the kinds of toys I have seen advertised during prime cartoon blocks on TV. (For example, Teletoon in Canada runs an Action Force block of shows in the after-school time slot and a Superfan Friday on Friday evenings.)
  • I included toys targeted to boys aged 6 to 8.
  • If a word was repeated multiple times in one commercial, I included it multiple times to show how heavily these words are used.
  • I hyphenated words that were meant to stay together, like “special forces” and “killer boots.”
  • For the record, my boys’ list included 658 words from 27 commercials from the following toy lines: Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Kung Zhu, Nerf, Transformers, Beyblades, and Bakugan.
  • By way of comparison, I also looked at girls’ toys. The girls’ list had 432 words from 32 commercials. Toy lines on this list include: Zhu Zhu Pets, Zhu Zhu Babies, Bratz Dolls, Barbie, Moxie Girls, Easy Bake Ovens, Monster High Dolls, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, and FURREAL Friends. (I have a full list of references for both list, with links, if anyone would like to see it.)
  • The results, while not at all surprising, put the gender bias in toy advertising in stark relief. First, the boys’ list, available in full size at Wordle:


wordle-BoysToys-sm Boys