Marks and Spencer has agreed to make its toy packaging gender neutral next year, after customers complained that its marketing promotes gender stereotypes.
Customers raised concerns over a range of toys called “Boy’s Stuff”, which includes dinosaurs, planes, cars, cat toys and a marble run, while its "Little Miss Arty" collection features fairies, princesses, and a handbag decoration kit.
A joke book in the "Boy's Stuff" range read: “Boys know the best jokes and here are 500 crackers to keep you ahead of the girls.” The packaging of a fire station said: “This pop up fire station is perfect for little firemen everywhere”
Marks and Spencer say by spring 2014 the “Boy’s Stuff” collection will be re-branded to use a minimal graphic logo, and the “Little Miss Arty” range will be replaced by character-based branding.
The retailer claims to have been planning the update for months. The decision was made public prematurely after Labour MP Stella Creasy criticised their branding on Twitter after a mother said she wanted to buy the marble run for her daughter.
The store replied: “Hi Stella, we've listened to customer feedback and by spring next year all of our toys will be gender neutral. Thanks.” This was later reiterated in a statement from M&S.
Campaign group Lets Toys be Toys revealed in mid-December that there has been a 60 per cent decrease in the number of toy stores separating products by gender after pressure from shoppers and campaigners.
They said reports from the high street suggested that a fifth of stores were still not organising toys by genre, compared to the run up to Christmas in 2012.