Car commercials don't have a reputation for being the most feminist things on TV. But one particular one — Audi Spain's "La Muñeca Que Eligió Conducir" ("The Doll That Chose To Drive") — just surprised us. By featuring a doll breaking stereotypes, the ad shows both that women can like cars and that little girls can like playing with them.
In the video, a Barbie-like doll jumps from the girls' toy aisle to the boys' aisle and gets in a blue car (but not before withstanding street harassment from the other cars, because the struggle is real). She rides around the aisle, swerving away from various toys falling on her, until the store opens. Then, a boy finds the doll in her pink dress and blue car and asks his mom if he can get her. "But darling, they don't go together, do they?" she responds. Of course, that's what the ad wants us to question. "Playing, like driving, should not be influenced by gender stereotyping," text reads at the end.
The ad is part of the company's #CambiemosElJuego ("change the game") campaign, which is trying to end gendered marketing of toys. And this effort is very needed — not just to show girls that they can be adventurous but also to show boys they can be caring and nurturing.
After all, people are still Googling "toys for girls" and "toys for boys" far more than "toys for children," according to a Sociological Images analysis of Google Ngram data. And during our holiday shopping this year, we all saw many toys packaged as girls' and boys' toys and divided into separate aisles, just like the toys in the ad.
Fortunately, Audi isn't the only company working to change this. A number of toy manufacturers are making moves to end gendered marketing. A recent ad by Smyths Toys shows a boy playing pretend with all different toys, including a queen costume. And companies like Quirkie Kids, Nerdy With Children, littleBits, and Wondernik make gender-neutral products like science kits and cute T shirts that all kids can have fun with.
Some companies are even doing away with dividing their toys, clothes, and other products by gender. Toys R Us no longer lets you filter search results by gender on its UK site, Amazon got rid of its gender filter altogether, Target no longer uses signs labeling its toys "boys" and "girls," and the Disney Store doesn't label any of its costumes this way.
Now, we just need an ad starring this action figure having a tea party.