The Jack Rabbit Special, The Whip Creamer. The Deora, Silhouette, Rocket Bye Baby and Flying Colors edition Porsche 917. The super special chrome Boss Hoss Silver Special.
These were the crown jewels in my Hot Wheels collection. They kept my automotive passions lit when I was too young to do anything else about them.
So as Hot Wheels, the biggest selling automotive brand in the world, celebrates a half century of stoking automotive enthusiasm in kids of all walks of life, I’d like to offer Mattel this humble point: girls like cars too.
While this may seem obvious to those in our industry, it’s easily forgotten when companies put together marketing plans that seem designed to exclude girls.
From my experience, the father of three daughters, and brother to one of the most avid and knowledgeable motorsport enthusiasts you will ever meet, this makes no sense. Ask my youngest, she’s four, who her favourite princess is and she stares blankly, wondering why you haven’t noticed her Lightning McQueen hat.
Every morning I take my life in my hands, hoping I can get to the coffee maker without stepping on something with wheels. This is all her.
To be fair, the words of Chris Down, Senior Vice President and Global Brand GM, Hot Wheels, do not distinguish gender in the appeal of the toy: “Since its introduction in 1968, the brand has evolved from a simple toy into a true lifestyle brand that champions the challenger spirit through gaming, digital content, partnerships and live experiences spanning multiple generations and ages — this has allowed the brand to remain relevant to kids and adults and see record growth over the past three years.”
Kids. Not boys. Kids.
And yet, in celebration of this anniversary, a deal has been struck with a clothing maker to produce “an exclusive line of boys clothing that captures the challenger spirit. It is with this free-wheeling and youthful exuberance that this collection was created.”
The announcement says the companies “combine forces to show that the creative spirit comes in all colours, shapes and sizes.” But apparently not for all genders.
This stuff drives me nuts. There’s more to this clothing gender bias than just this example, as any parent of a young daughter knows, and there is no reasonable logic behind making kids clothing gender specific.
To me it would be great if companies would simply recognize how this gender-bias can creep in and put together programs appropriately.
Let kids play with toy cars if they want and rock the t-shirt too. And if you still think cars are a boy thing, go tell it to Shirley Muldowney, or Danica Patrick, or Ashley Force, or Tilly, my 4-year-old, who will likely set you straight in a hurry.