Mattel’s Vice President of US Marketing, Matt Peterson, recently conducted a focus group with a group of mommy bloggers over mimosas and brunch to uncover why us moms don’t know how to play with toy cars and trucks. When I learned of this I was horrified and wondered what kind of damage we have been doing to our sons!
Prompted by a drop in toy car sales and the realization that women, many of whom are mothers, account for 85% of all consumer purchases including everything from life-sized cars to healthcare, Peterson was determined to understand why mom, “…doesn’t get why cars, engines, and all the shapes and crashing and smashing are so cool.” Read the article here.
As a mom, of an obviously neglected almost 22-year-old son, and a great aunt of 6 Hot Wheel loving little boys, I began pondering where this shortcoming could have stemmed from in my own life. Was it handed down from my own mom? Could I as a 50+-year-old woman change my ways? Clearly, I need to correct this flaw in case I someday become a grandmother of a boy. Mattel’s bottom line depends on it.
In my personal reflection, I thought it might be best to begin with an examination of my closest male sibling, Doug, who is two years older. Since we grew up in the same home, with the same parents and exposure to the same toys, etc. it seemed like the best place to start. Plus he is the father of 3 sons.
In looking at some early photos, there we are, playing with Tonka Trucks together. Oh, another photo of us playing with Barbie dolls together. And then another photo of us playing with tractors. Oops, how did this photo of my mom playing with cars with us sneak in here? Ok so maybe my flaw isn’t related to my early years of toys, as it seems like all is equal there.
Let’s see – Doug and I both mowed the lawn with the same driving lawn mower and both drove snowmobiles. That can’t be it. Considering we both completed driver’s training from the same instructor when we turned 15 and both received our driver’s licenses on our 16th birthdays, that can’t be it either. Both of us had early car accidents and speeding tickets and we both had to be pushed out of ditches during snowstorms. It looks like our experience in driving a real car is nearly identical so that can’t be it.
So why is Doug more competent in his ability to play with toy cars with his sons and according to Mattel I’m a failure? Hmmm, it could only be one thing…of course he has a penis and I don’t!
Now that I have fully expressed my sarcasm – come on Mattel? Seriously? Do you strive to continue to be the international leader in sexism in toys (don’t’ get me started on Mattel’s recent release of Barbie and her new career line)?
I can’t even begin to count the hours, upon hours that I have played with Hot Wheels, Tonka Trucks and all other brands of toy vehicles as a child, an aunt, a mom and now a great aunt. HOURS! And I can proudly say I have yet to log a complaint from a child – male or female – that my ability to maneuver, crash or say “vroom, vroom” didn’t stack up to my male counterparts. Ironically, I just bought (and played with) some Matchbox cars for two of my great nephews two weeks ago!
At a recent meeting with about 40 other women, I shared the “research” that Mattel conducted and the women burst out laughing then proceeded to share story after story about their Hot Wheel moments.
So Matt Peterson, we invite you to come and host a focus group here in Michigan. We’d be happy to enlighten you about our experiences playing with cars and trucks and also provide a debriefing about sexism. Just don’t forget the mimosas.