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LET TOYS BE TOYS


It would have been very difficult to start the campaign as we met on a chat forum. I don’t know if Mumsnet is classed as social media but with Facebook and Twitter, without social media it would have been very difficult to have the impact that we’ve had.


How many Let Toys Be Toys members are there? We’ve got a private group on Facebook and we have about ten core active members at the minute. People dip in and out. We’ve all got jobs and


families and a couple of us have had babies this year so some have ducked out for a while.


How many retailers have you got on board right now? 12 major retailers have announced changes as a result of the Let Toys Be Toys campaign, taking down signs or reorganising the websites mainly.


Is there one retailer that helped the campaign gain momentum? Toys R Us was incredible. The most amazing thing


was to see Let Toys Be Toys on Fox News as a result of the Toys R Us story. Just to see Let Toys Be Toys across the screen was great. It’s great that we’ve stirred up so much debate as well. It’s not just about the signs. It’s a wider issue in society and we just focus very tightly on toys, but it’s great that we’ve


40 January/February


raised awareness of gender stereotypes in toys in general and got people talking.


How big a coup was Toys R Us? Did it help to get other stores on board? Yes. We started campaigning on signs because we saw those as the most obvious and easiest thing to change as a first step. We’ve seen a lot of


retailers now make changes and there are very few High Street retailers, which still have the signs up. Debenhams has announced it will take signs down. The first major retailer to take down boys and girls signs was Boots back in May 2013. We had a few interviews


where we said we hoped other retailers would follow


Alongside coverage in The Daily Mail, Metro, The Telegraph(and ToyNews), the Let Toys Be Toys campaign graced US TV when Fox Newspicked up the story (above)


but Ferrero will tell you that the eggs are not gender-specific. But any child will tell


you that the blue egg is for boys and the pink egg is for girls.


People worry we’re pushing a certain view of the world but we’re just trying to not have it pushed on children. Tricia Lowther, Let Toys Be Toys


suit and there’s not many left now. But there are lots of


ways messages about gender are given to children so I think it’s going to be more difficult in a way to measure progress because it’s a society issue. Children don’t need the signs to know what toys they’re supposed to like. The Kinder Eggs are a


good example of that. They are clearly gendered


Once all the explicit signs, labels and images go, and I think they will go, it will be trickier because the gender message is still there in the actual toys.


What retailers are left for you to change? Center Parcs do have very gendered marketing. We’ll be continuing to pursue them.


As most retailers have taken note with regard to


signs, where does Let Toys Be Toys go now? We decided on retailers after a lot of discussion because they are the frontline, they have an influence with manufacturers and it seemed like the signs were the easiest thing to change. Obviously, we are still


going to chase up the stores that use explicit gendered marketing. Also, gendered books are an issue that keeps cropping up again and again, with stickers for boys and stickers for girls. Retailers sell them but they don’t make them so I think that’s something we’ll be looking at in the New Year.


Have you seen parents from overseas get on board with the campaign? We have some contacts in the US and there are some people in Australia trying to set up a similar group.


We’ve given advice to people in Belgium and there’s a Belgium group set up that isn’t called Let Toys Be Toys, but they have the same ideas. We sent them advice on how we set up. It is spreading and we get queries all the time. We get students doing dissertations on gender who ask us for help.


What would you say to people still sceptical about the Let Toys be Toys campaign? I’d say that there really is nothing to worry about. We’re a group of


parents who are concerned about children.


One of the things people


worry about is that we’re trying to push a certain view of the world and we’re not. We’re just trying to not have it pushed onto children. It’s about letting


children be children and letting them make their own choices.


www.toynews-online.biz


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