Gender Stereotype in Toy Advertisements on Social Networking Sites

Nor Jijidiana Azmi 1, Isyaku Hassan 1 * , Radzuwan Ab Rashid 1, Zulkarnian Ahmad 2, Nor Azira Aziz 1, Qaribu Yahaya Nasidi 3
More Detail
1 Faculty of Languages and Communication, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, MALAYSIA
2 Business School, Universiti Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
3 Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello Universiti Zaria, NIGERIA
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 11, Issue 4, Article No: e202122.
OPEN ACCESS   3294 Views   5199 Downloads   Published online: 08 Sep 2021
Download Full Text (PDF)


Marketing and advertising messages are often designed to persuade and influence the consumers into purchasing the products or services usually designed based on market segmentation and target consumers. This segmentation may vary but the most common type of market segmentation is based on demographic information such as gender. In toy advertisements, children are the target markets. Research shows that most toy advertisements involve gender stereotypes. Therefore, this paper aims to explore the visual elements of gender stereotypes in children’s toy advertisements on social media. Using a case study approach, children’s toy advertisements on Mattel’s official Facebook page were analyzed from January 2019 to December 2019. A total of 87 relevant advertisements were gathered and subjected to content analysis focusing on gender stereotype characteristics and the presence of boy(s) or girl(s) model(s) in the advertisements. The analysis was conducted based on gender stereotype characteristics and the presence of boy or girl models in the advertisement. The findings showed that advertisements for girl toys are more frequently posted on Mattel’s official Facebook page than advertisements for boy toys. Further analysis revealed that the advertisements contained more feminine compared to masculine traits and role behaviors. However, a large majority of the advertised toys do not have emotional behaviors. It was envisaged that the findings of this study could advance our knowledge of gender stereotypes in toy advertisements.


Azmi, N. J., Hassan, I., Ab Rashid, R., Ahmad, Z., Aziz, N. A., & Nasidi, Q. Y. (2021). Gender Stereotype in Toy Advertisements on Social Networking Sites. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 11(4), e202122.


  • Antoniadis, I. I., Saprikis, V. S., & Karteraki, E. Ε. (2019). Consumers’ attitudes towards advertisement in YouTube. In A. Kavoura, E. Kefallonitis, & A. Giovanis (Eds.), Strategic innovative marketing and tourism (pp. 253-261). Springer, Cham.
  • Auster, C. J., & Mansbach, C. S. (2012). The gender marketing of toys: An analysis of color and type of toy on the Disney Store website. Sex Roles, 67, 375-388.
  • Azmi, N. J., Rashid, R. A., Mohamad, B., Rahman, M. A., & Ahmad, Z. (2017). Students athletes’ perception of female models in sports advertisement. Asian Social Science 13(10), 120-123.
  • Baek, Y. M. (2015). Political mobilization through social network sites: The mobilizing power of political messages received from SNS friends. Computers in Human Behavior, 44, 12-19.
  • Bakir, A., Blodgett, J. G., & Rose, G. M. (2008). Children’s responses to gender-role stereotyped advertisements. Journal of Advertising Research, 48(2), 255-266.
  • Bansal, M., & Gupta, S. (2014). Impact of newspaper advertisement on consumers behavior. Global Journal of Finance and Management, 6(7), 669-679.
  • Beasley, B., & Collins Standley, T. (2002). Shirts vs. skins: Clothing as an indicator of gender role stereotyping in video games. Mass Communication & Society, 5(3), 279-293.
  • Bem, S. L. (1981). Gender schema theory: A cognitive account of sex typing. Psychological Review, 88(4), 354-364.
  • Blakemore, J., Berenbaum, S., & Liben, S. (2008). Gender Development. Taylor & Francis.
  • Bock, A., Isermann, H., & Knieper, T. (2011). Quantitative content analysis of the visual. In L. Pauwels & D. Mannay (eds.), The SAGE handbook of visual research methods (pp. 265-282). Sage Publications.
  • Boe, J., & Woods, R. (2018). Parents’ influence on infants’ gender-typed toy preferences. Sex Roles, 79, 5-6.
  • Boudreau, M., & Watson, R. (2006). Internet advertising strategy alignment. Internet Research, 16(1), 23-37.
  • Bovée, C. L., & Arens, W. L. (1992). Contemporary advertising. McGraw-Hill Education.
  • Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210-230.
  • Canevello, A. (2020). Gender schema theory. Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences, 1741-1743.
  • Carta, A., Carraro, E., Martini, S. A., & Perasso, G. (2021). Fifty shades of pretty and thin: Psychological research on gender stereotypes in media and advertising. In Handbook of research on translating myth and reality in women imagery across disciplines (pp. 213-232). IGI Global.
  • Chan, K., & Chan, K. (2005). Information content of television advertising in China: An update. Asian Journal of Communication, 15(1), 1-15.
  • Chernova, V. Y., Tretyakova, O. V., & Vlasov, A. I. (2018). Brand marketing trends in Russian social media. Media Watch, 9.
  • Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007). Morrison, research method in education. Routledge.
  • Creswell, J. W. (2003). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.
  • Crowe, C. (2015). How do family background and self-esteem affect an individual’s perception of gender-role portrayal in online advertising?
  • Dao, V. W., Hanh Le, N. A., Cheng, M. J., & Chen, C. D. (2014). Social media advertising value: The case of transitional economies in Southeast Asia. International Journal of Advertising, 33(2), 271-294.
  • Davis, J. T., & Hines, M. (2020). How large are gender differences in toy preferences? A systematic review and meta-analysis of toy preference research. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 49(2), 373-394.
  • Fine, C., & Rush, E. (2018). Why does all the girls have to buy pink stuff? The ethics and science of the gendered toy marketing debate. Journal of Business Ethics, 149(4), 769-784.
  • Friedman, G. (2017). A future for growth. Review of Radical Political Economics, 1(1), 1-11.
  • Gallaugher, J., & Ransbotham, S. (2010). Social media and customer diablog management at Starbucks. MIS Q Executive, 9(4).
  • Gerbner, G., Gross, L., Morgan, M., & Signorielli, N. (1994). Growing up with television: The Cultivation Perspective. In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects. Erlbaum.
  • Harris, J., Webb, V., Sacco, S., & Pomeranz, J. (2020). Marketing to children in supermarket: an opportunity for public policy to improve children’s diet. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(4), 1284.
  • Hassan, I., & Azmi, M. N. (2019). Visual framing of Islam in online newspapers: Evidence from selected Muslim-majority nations. Humanities & Social Sciences Reviews, 7(6), 1134-1141.
  • Hassan, I., Azmi, M. N. L., & Abdullahi, A. M. (2020). Evaluating the spread of fake news and its detection. Techniques on social networking sites. Romanian Journal of Communication and Public Relations, 22(1), 111-125.
  • Hassan, I., Azmi, M. N., & Abubakar, U. I. (2017). Framing Islam in news reporting: A comparative content analysis. Asian Social Science, 13(10), 112-119.
  • Hines, M. (2015). Gendered development. In: R. M. Lerner & M. E. Lamb (Eds.), Handbook of child development and developmental science (7th ed.). Wiley.
  • Hoy, M. G., & Milne, G. (2010). Gender differences in privacy-related measures for young adult Facebook users. Journal of Interactive Advertising, 10(2), 28-45.
  • Hsieh, H. F., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277-1288.
  • Johnson, F., & Young, K. (2002). Gendered voice in children’s television advertising. Critical Studies in Media Communication,19(4), 461-480.
  • Kahlenberg, S. G., & Hein, M. M. (2010). Progression on Nickelodeon? Gender-role stereotypes in toy commercials. Sex Roles, 62(11-12), 830-847.
  • Kane, E. (2006). No way my boys are going to be like that: Parents response to children’s gender nonconformity. Gender and Society, 20(2), 149-176.
  • Kim, J., & McMillan, S. J. (2008). Evaluation of internet advertising research: A bibliometric analysis of citations from key sources. Journal of Advertising, 37(1), 99-112.
  • Knoll, J. (2016). Advertising in social media: A review of empirical evidence. International Journal of Advertising, 35(2), 266-300.
  • Koenig, A. M., & Eagly, A. H. (2014). Evidence for the social role theory of stereotype content. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(3), 371-392.
  • Kotler, P. (2002). Marketing Management. Prentice-Hall.
  • Li, H. (2011). The interactive web: Toward a new discipline. Journal of Advertising Research, 51(1), 13-26.
  • Lopez‐Castroman, J., Moulahi, B., Azé, J., Bringay, S., Deninotti, J., Guillaume, S., & Baca‐Garcia, E. (2020). Mining social networks to improve suicide prevention: A scoping review. Journal of Neuroscience Research, 98(4), 616-625.
  • Mangold, W. G., & Faulds, D. J. (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix. Business Horizons, 52(4), 357-366.
  • Martin, C. L., & Halverson Jr, C. F. (1981). A schematic processing model of sex typing and stereotyping in children. Child Development, 52(4), 1119-1134.
  • Meyer, M., Adkins, V., Yuan, N., Weeks, H. M., Chang, Y. J., & Radesky, J. (2019). Advertising in young children’s apps: A content analysis. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 40(1), 32-39.
  • Mir, I. & Zaheer, A. (2012). Verification of Social Impact Theory claims in social media context. Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce, 17(1), 1-15.
  • Neto, F., & Furham, A. (2005). Gender roles portrayal in children’s television advertisement. International Journal of Adolescent and Youth, 12(1-2), 69-90.
  • O’Barr, W. (2015). What is advertising? Advertising & Society Review,16(3).
  • Obar, J. A., & Wildman, S. (2015). Social media definition and the governance challenge: An introduction to the special issue. Telecommunications Policy, 39(9), 745-750.
  • Ohajionu, U. C., & Mathews, S. (2015). Advertising on social media and benefits to brands. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 10(2), 335-351.
  • Owan, V. J., Ekpe, M. B., & Eneje, S. (2020). Undergraduates’ utilization of social networking media and sexual behaviours in higher education: A case study. Pedagogical Research, 5(2), 1-8.
  • Owen, P. R., & Padron, M. (2015). The language of toys: Gendered language in toy advertisements. Journal of Research on Women and Gender, 6(1), 67-80.
  • Rashid, R. A., Fazry A. R. M., & Abdul Rahman, S. B. (2016). Teachers’ engagement in social support process on a networking site. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 1(1), 34-45.
  • Rudy, R., Popova, L., & Linz, D. (2010). The context of current content analysis of gender roles: An introduction to special issue. Sex Roles, 62(11-12), 705-720.
  • Sadek, H. (2021). Social media advertising influence on users’ responses in Egypt. International Journal of Online Marketing (IJOM), 11(1), 1-13.
  • Samuelson, C. (2021). Which toys are right for boys? How threat and confirmation of the gender hierarchy impact purchase intentions for stereotypical and counter stereotypical products (Doctoral dissertation). Georgia Southern University, Georgia.
  • Saxena, A., & Khanna, U. (2013). Advertising on social network sites: A structural equation modelling approach. Vision, 17(1), 17-25.
  • Schimmelpfennig, C. (2019). The use of different endorser types in advertising: a content analysis of magazine advertisements. Journal of Global Marketing, 32(3), 139-153.
  • Sinha, N., & Singh, P. (2020). Social networking sites’ advertising effectiveness: a systematic insight into literature. International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, 20(1), 37-59.
  • Tan, L., Ng, S. H., Omar, A., & Karupaiah, T. (2018). What’s on YouTube? A case study on food and beverage advertising in videos targeted at children on social media. Childhood Obesity, 14(5), 280-290.
  • Van Oosten, J. M., Vandenbosch, L., & Peter, J. (2017). Gender roles on social networking sites: investigating reciprocal relationships between Dutch adolescents’ hypermasculinity and hyperfemininity and sexy online self-presentations. Journal of Children and Media, 11(2), 147-166.
  • Walter, E., & Gioglio, J. (2014). The power of visual storytelling: How to use visuals, videos, and social media to market your brand. Mc-Graw-Hill Education.
  • Weaver, D. H. (2007). Thoughts on agenda setting, framing, and priming. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 142-147.
  • Yildirim, T., & Milla, A. (2019). A Critical Evaluation of the Effects of Advertisements Targeted to Children. In A. Al-Masri & K. Curran (Eds.), Smart technologies and innovation for sustainable future, advances in science, technology & innovation (pp. 21-27). Springer.
  • Zimmermann, L. K. (2017). Preschoolers’ perceptions of gendered toy commercials in the US. Journal of Children and Media, 11(2), 119-131.