I’m all for getting women into motoring and careers in the auto industry, but are Polly Wheels from Mattel really the answer?
It is 40 years since Hot Wheels was launched, but apparently the fruit-scented Polly Wheels are the first-ever toy cars designed exclusively for girls. Stephanie Cota, vice president of girls marketing at Mattel is cited as saying that two years of market research identified “girls clamoring for their own version of Hot Wheels or Matchbox.”
Does it matter that boys toys seem to be increasingly addressive and speed-driven, whilst girls are pretty and socially (or shopping) minded? Are such stereotypes an issue? Why can’t playing with toy cars be gender neutral?
Of course, it does expand the market – segmentation rather than integration but with a basic core product. The toy industry is very pleased with the new product. Some media actually see this as a sign of sexual equality and I found nothing criticising the move.
Mattel has taken a stand at the New York International Auto Show and has undertaken a lot of public relations activities to promote the new range. Some, might think toy cars are propaganda for the car industry – designed to encourage connections with vehicles from a very young age. If there is such a linkage, then will women be driving around in Glitter Peach, watermelon scented models in 10 years time?