If you’re a mom to young girls, like me, you were likely outraged last week when Mattel introduced its newer, sexier version of Dora the Explorer.
Now why would Mattel change Dora? Because sex sells. Look at Barbie. Look at the Bratz. Every year, the toys get sexier and are marketed to a younger crowd. Dora is popular with the 2-6 year old set, and I assume that Mattel figured that they could extend the life of this child icon to an older set as well by maturing her. It’s not all that different from the marketing tactics that other companies take as well to market to young children.
But Mattel would be wise to learn from search marketing. Unlike other traditional forms of marketing that rely on hot bodies and sex to sell products, search marketing, with all of its ROI, doesn’t even provide pictures in search results and STILL is far more successful than any TV advertising that does. We don’t need Danica Patrick and a bunch of scantily clad models to sell web hosting. It’s just not necessary. When buyers want a product, they search for it and click on a simple text ad — no sex, no flash, no glamor. Just advertisers connecting with buyers in a straightforward way.
So hopefully, this sexism in advertising is going to die — and hopefully soon. Other advertisers, like Dove, have shown it’s not necessary to sell products with sex. And as more users turn to the web to research and find products, perhaps the trend will change. But until then, I guess we’ll have to continue to put up with ridiculous advertising tactics by toy companies like Mattel that just don’t get it.
As for me, the new Dora isn’t going to be welcome in my house. Maybe if enough parents speak out, Mattel will get the message and stop marketing to our kids in this way.