Progression on Nickelodeon? Gender-Role Stereotypes in Toy Commercials

Abstract

A content analysis was conducted to examine gender-role stereotypes in toy commercials airing during the after-school hours in October, 2004, on the U.S. Nickelodeon network. The sample included 455 toy commercials, which were analyzed for the type of toy, number of identifiable boys and girls, gender portrayal, gender orientation, age of children, type of interaction, setting, and color of setting. The majority of girl and boy characters were featured in gender-specific toy commercials, and there were more identifiable girls than boys. Almost one-half of the characters were children (6-to-10-years old) who predominantly played indoors, in mixed colored settings, and engaged in cooperative play. Boys were more likely than girls to be shown outdoors and playing competitively.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Arliss, L. P. (1991). Gender communication. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Bakir, A., Blodgett, J. G., & Rose, G. M. (2008). Children’s response to gender-role stereotyped advertisements. Journal of Advertising Research, 48, 255–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Banet-Weiser, S. (2004). Girls rule!: Gender, feminism, and Nickelodeon. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 21, 119–140.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Batada, A., & Wootan, M. G. (2007). Nickelodeon markets nutrition-poor foods to children. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33, 48–50.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Browne, B. A. (1998). Gender stereotypes in advertising on children’s television in the 1990: A cross-national analysis. Journal of Advertising, 27(1), 83–96.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Chandler, D., & Griffiths, M. (2000). Gender-differentiated production features in toy commercials. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 44, 503–521.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Chang, C. (2003). Ad repetition and variation in a competitive ad context. Conference paper International Communication Association, 2003 Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, 1-31.

  8. Comstock, G., & Scharrer, E. (2001). The use of television and other film-related media. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 47–72). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Cross, G. (1997). Kids stuff: Toys and the changing world of American childhood. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Davis, S. (2003). Sex stereotypes in commercials targeted toward children: A content analysis. Sociological Spectrum, 23, 407–424.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., Signorielli, N., & Shanahan, J. (2002). Growing up with television: Cultivation processes. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 43–68). Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Goffman, E. (1976). Gender advertisements. NY: Harper Colophon Books.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Gunter, B., & McAleer, J. (1997). Children and television (2nd ed.). NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Gunter, B., Oates, C., & Blades, M. (2005). Advertising to children on TV: Content, impact, and regulation. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hendershot, H. (ed). (2004). Nickelodeon nation. New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Horovitz, B. (2006, November 26). Be ready for toy marketers’ Christmastime tactics. Retrieved on November 2, 2008, from http://www.frankwbaker.com/holiday_ad_tactics.htm.

  17. Huston, A. C., Greer, D., Wright, J. C., Welch, R., & Ross, R. (1984). Children’s comprehension of televised formal features with masculine and feminine connotations. Developmental Psychology, 20, 707–716.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Johnson, F. L., & Young, K. (2002). Gendered voices in children’s television advertising. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19, 461–480.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kessen, W. (1997). The American child and other cultural inventions. In M. Gauvain & M. Cole (Eds.), Readings on the development of children (pp. 3–9). San Francisco: Freeman.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Klaassen, A., & Atkinson, C. (2005). Kids’ upfront crawls along; 6% rise seen. Advertising Age, 76(18), 61.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Kline, S. (1993). Out of the garden: Toys, TV, and children’s culture in the age of marketing. London: Verso.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Kline, S. (1995). The promotion and marketing of toys: Time to rethink the paradox? In A. D. Pellegrini (Ed.), The future of play theory (pp. 165–185). NY: State University of the New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kline, S. (1998). The making of children’s culture. In H. Jenkins (Ed.), The children’s culture reader (pp. 95–109). NY: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Klinger, L. J., Hamilton, J. A., & Cantrell, P. J. (2001). Children’s perceptions of aggressive and gender-specific content in toy commercials. Social Behavior and Personality, 29, 11–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Krippendorff, K. (1980). Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Beverly Hills: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Kolbe, R. H., & Muehling, D. (1995). Gender roles and children’s television advertising. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 17(1), 49–64.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Kunkle, D., & Gantz, W. (1992). Children’s television advertising inn the multichannel environment. The Journal of Communication, 42, 134–152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Larson, M. S. (2001). Interactions, activities and gender in children’s television commercials: a content analysis. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 45, 41–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Light, J. C., Drager, K. D. R., & Nemser, J. G. (2004). Enhancing the appeal of AAA technologies for young children: Lessons from the toy manufacturers. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 20, 137–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Linn, S. (2004). Consuming kids. NY: Anchor Books.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Linn, S. (2008). Commercializing childhood: The corporate takeover of kids’ lives. Multinational Monitor, 30(1), 32–38.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Lull, J. (2003). Hegemony. In G. Dines & J. M. Humez (Eds.), Gender, race and class in media: A text reader (2nd ed., pp. 61–66). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Macklin, M. C., & Kolbe, R. H. (1984). Sex role stereotyping in children’s advertising: Current and past trends. Journal of Advertising, 13(2), 34–42.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Maher, J. K., & Childs, N. M. (2003). A longitudinal content analysis of gender roles in children’s television advertisements: A 27 year review. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 25(1), 71–82.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Maltz, D. N., & Borker, R. (1982). A cultural approach to male-female miscommunication. In J. J. Gumpertz (Ed.), Language and social identity (pp. 196–216). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  36. McNeal, J. U. (1999). The kids market: Myths and realities. NY: Paramount Market.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Meyers-Levy, J. (1988). The influence of sex roles on judgment. The Journal of Consumer Research, 14, 522–530.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Merskin, D. (2002). Boys will be boys: A content analysis of gender and race in children’s advertisements on the Turner Cartoon Network. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 24(1), 51–60.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Moschis, G. P., & Moore, R. L. (1982). A longitudinal study of television advertising effects. The Journal of Consumer Research, 9, 279–286.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Otnes, C., Kim, Y. C., & Kim, K. (1994). All I want for Christmas: An analysis of children’s brand requests to Santa Claus. Journal of Popular Culture, 27(4), 183–194.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Pecora, N. (1998). The business of children’s entertainment. NY: Guilford.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Pecora, N. (2004). Nickelodeon grows up: The economic evolution of a network. In H. Hendershot (Ed.), Nickelodeon nation (pp. 15–44). New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Pecora, N., Murray, J. P., & Wartella, E. A. (2007). Children and television: Fifty years of research. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Richardson, J. G., & Simpson, C. H. (1982). Children, gender, and social structure: An analysis of the contents of letters to Santa Claus. Child Development, 53, 429–436.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Sandler, K. S. (2004). “A kid’s gotta do what a kid’s gotta do”: Branding the Nickelodeon experience. In H. Hendershot (Ed.), Nickelodeon nation (pp. 45–68). New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Scheibe, C. (2007). Piaget and Power Rangers: What can theories of developmental psychology tell us about children and media. In S. R. Mazzarella (Ed.), 20 questions about youth and the media (pp. 45–72). NY: Peter Lang.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Schor, J. B. (2004). Born to buy. NY: Scribner.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Seiter, E. (1993). Sold separately: Parents and children in consumer society. New Brunswick: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Seiter, E., & Mayer, V. (2004). Diversifying representation in children’s TV: Nickelodeon’s model. In H. Hendershot (Ed.), Nickelodeon nation (pp. 120–133). New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Semuels, A. (2009, February 24). Television viewing at all-time high. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 5, 2009, from http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-tvwatching24-2009feb24,0,6456108,print.story.

  51. Severin, W. J., & Tankard, J. W. (1992). Communication theories: Origins, methods, and uses in the mass media (3rd ed.). NY: Longman.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Shen, F. (2002). Toys? But I’m 10 Now!: As the Barbie sets get younger and younger, the industry retools. Washington Post, H01, February 17.

  53. Signorielli, N. (1983). The demography of the television world. In O. H. Gandy, P. Espinosa & J. A. Ordover (Eds.), Proceedings from the 10th Annual Telecommunications Policy Research Conference (pp. 53–73). Norwood: Ablex.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Signorielli, N. (1991). A sourcebook on children and television. NY: Greenwood.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Signorielli, N., & Bacue, A. (1999). Recognition and respect: A content analysis of prime-time television characters across three decades. Sex Roles, 40, 527–544.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Signorielli, N., & Kahlenberg, S. G. (2001). Television’s world of work in the 1990. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 18, 1–16.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Smith, L. J. (1994). A content analysis of gender differences in children’s advertising. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 38, 323–338.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Strasburger, V. C., Wilson, B. J., & Jordan, A. B. (2009). Children, adolescents, and the media (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Sutton-Smith, B. (1986). Toys as culture. NY: Gardner.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Swartz, M. (2004). “You dumb babies!” How raising the Rugrats children became as difficult as the real thing. In H. Hendershot (Ed.), Nickelodeon nation (pp. 108–119). New York: New York University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Van Evra, J. (1998). Television and child development. Mahwah: Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Verna, M. E. (1975). The female image in children’s TV commercials. Journal of Broadcasting, 19, 301–309.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Whitney, D. (2005). For kids TV, every day is Saturday. Advertising Age, 76(8), 10.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Wilson, B. J., & Weiss, A. J. (1992). Developmental differences in children’s reactions to a toy advertisement linked to a toy-based cartoon. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 36, 371–395.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Susan G. Kahlenberg.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kahlenberg, S.G., Hein, M.M. Progression on Nickelodeon? Gender-Role Stereotypes in Toy Commercials. Sex Roles 62, 830–847 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-009-9653-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Stereotypes
  • Gender
  • Toys
  • Nickelodeon
  • Commercials