Toys R Us move brings campaign mainstream attention; Gender labelling stores will ‘soon be in a minority’

Let Toys Be Toys campaign gathers pace

The Let Toys Be Toys campaign hit a pivotal moment late last month when Toys R Us agreed to drop gender specific labelling – and the move has been welcomed by both parenting networks and leading feminist commentators.

Retailers including Tesco, Boots, Sainsbury’s and The Entertainer have already made commitments to change their strategy regarding gender labelling. But Toys R Us coming on board was a major step forward for the campaign.

“At Toys R Us, we understand that children have many diverse interests, and we consistently strive to portray that in our aisles and in our advertising materials,” a TRU spokesman told ToyNews.

“We’re delighted that Toys R Us have committed to more inclusive marketing and merchandising such as incorporating more inclusive pictures in their catalogues, reviewing their in-store signage and product placement,” said Let Toys Be Toys’ Jess Day.

“Toys R Us are a high- profile player in the UK toy market, so we see this as an important move that will hopefully influence other businesses.”

With a list of supporters expected to grow off the back of this news, Let Toys Be Toys is confident that gender specific labelling will soon be a thing of the past.

Day continued: “Those who still organise toys by gender rather than genre will soon be in a minority.”

The story has been picked up by mainstream press and New Statesman deputy editor Helen Lewis – a leading feminist commentator – is a supporter of the campaign.

“I’ve never understood why toy manufacturers would want to exclude potential customers by saying ‘these products are not for you’,” she told ToyNews.

“It’s a vicious circle, because as toy manufacturers make toys which are more and more divided on gender lines, so children will come to accept that as normal.”

Let Toys Be Toys started life as a conversation on Mumsnet back in 2012 by a group of parents who took
inspiration from the site’s Let Girls Be Girls campaign.

And while not an official Mumsnet campaign, founder Justine Roberts remains a big supporter of the initiative.

“It’s really welcomed by Mumsnet users, it’s good for Toys R Us – and about time,” Roberts said.

And Let Toys Be Toys now has more retailers in its sights.

“Our supporters have highlighted Fenwicks, John Lewis and Asda, so we’re likely to be following up with them,” added Day.


The campaign is yet to convince everyone.

Toyology’s Peter Jenkinson finds the gender labelling helpful and believes it doesn’t do as much harm.

“Now the shops are removing signage it’ll be far less clear in the larger ones where to find construction kits, diggers and remote control tanks or princess based role dolls and plush bears with oh-so-cute eyes,” said Jenkinson.

“The point is it doesn’t matter, the boys and girls signage is nothing but just that – signage.

“It does not – and I have asked a ton of parents – have discriminatory connotations. It is just really quite helpful.”

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