Greenpeace UK recently launched a new campaign against toy companies’ (excessive and unnecessary) packaging which use resources that are destroying Indonesian rainforests, and thereby endangering orangutans, elephants, and tigers. Their target is Mattel, if only because of the advertising they’ve created with the trademark Barbie image, but Disney, Hasbro, Lego and more are also to blame.
So why Barbie? Greenpeace UK’s blog explains, “Love her or loathe her, Barbie has been part of the cultural landscape for over 50 years and she's all about aspiration – the various careers she's dabbled in, not to mention the accompanying wardrobe and accessories, are evidence of that. But is it really every young girl's dream to be responsible for clearing areas of priceless rainforest, accelerating climate change thanks to the resulting emissions and threatening endangered species?”
In the commercial, Ken watches in horror as he is presented with a video of Barbie having fun deforesting Indonesia and killing tigers. Those evil women are at it again, sneaking behind our backs and wasting our resources! They've also launched a Barbie-hunt across the UK, where Barbies brandishing pink chainsaws can be "captured" to "bring her rampage to an end"--a rampage that began after she was dumped. (Because we all know how dangerous a newly single women is!)
While their cause may be wholly commendable, their method of advertising is questionable. As Sophie Mayer on The F-Word has pointed out, the ad is “implicitly playing on the stereotype of the female shopper ‘on the rampage’, beautifying herself at the environment’s expense.” Toys marketed for boys are produced by the same companies cause the same environmental damage, yet the ad specifies the gender responsible. It’s a shame-based campaign that not only blames women for the environmental destruction, but also targets women and girls as consumers of these products. Women and girls are meant to feel guilty for their role, however small and unaware, in the horrors that these companies are creating. And apparently the best way to inspire guilt and fear in women is for a man to threaten to dump them.
I fully believe in the power of the consumer, and that “every dollar is a vote.” However, I would also like to suggest that perhaps those who were actually knowingly responsible for choosing how they would package their products and where they would get these resources from could be the target for the blame. You know, maybe like all of the male CEOs and presidents of each of these toy companies. (Mattel: Robert Eckert, Lego: Niels Jacobsen, Hasbro: Brian Goldner, and Disney: Robert Iger)
See the video here.