Just over two years ago, on October 19th 2007, I wrote a post titled Tonka Trucks: “built for boyhood”? in which I called Tonka to task for their commercial showing boys playing with Tonka dump trucks, a commercial in which not only did they insinuate that Tonka Trucks are built specifically for boys, but used the phrase “boys are built different” several times. A phrase, as one commenter pointed out, that isn’t even grammatically correct. The point of my post was to point out that GIRLS also play with Tonka trucks, so obviously their products are built for girlhood too. My comment that playing with a dump truck does not cause a girl to grow a penis or anything was a big hit with my readers back then.
Well, Tonka, you did it again. In heavy commercial rotation right now is an ad for Chuck the Talking Truck. It goes like this: “Hi, I’m Chuck. Your BOY’S friend”.
*insert sound of facepalm*
Tonka, Tonka, Tonka. You really need to get over this archaic notion that children can only play with gender-specific toys. While I recognize that there are parents who don’t let their sons play with dolls or play kitchens, and don’t let their daughters play with toy guns or pretend power tools, what about the rest of us? What about those of us who want our little girls to truly believe that they can be ANYTHING they want to be when they grow up? Are you telling my daughter that she shouldn’t play with your dump trucks because it’s not like she’s going to grow up and OPERATE ONE some day?
We bought a Chuck the Talking Truck for the boys for Christmas one year when they were probably 4 and 2, and it was a huge hit. I’ve saved it all these years in a tub in the basement because Tonka products are so well-made. Seeing that commercial reminded me that I still have the toy, and I’m planning to dust it off, insert some fresh batteries, and surprise Kaitlyn with it. I predict she’ll love it. The way the toy works is, you clap your hands and call to it, and the truck rolls to you. I bet she plays with it like that for a while, and then loads up the truck bed with My Little Ponies and uses it as a transport vehicle.
I know I’m not going to change the advertising strategies used by Tonka. But I just had to write this follow-up to that 2007 post and point out that like the French say, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more things change, the more they stay the same.
oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, I work with Hasbro, the makers of Tonka, on lots of campaigns. I LIKE Hasbro. I LIKE Tonka! I just don’t like this particular choice of words for these particular commercials.