Mckenna Pope of Garfield, N.J. thinks the design and packaging of Hasbro’s iconic Easy Bake Oven are sending a clear and archaic message – “Women Cook, Men Work”. So she’s doing something about it. The 13 year old big sister to her 4 year old aspiring chef brother has started a Change.org petition calling for Hasbro to “feature males on the packaging and in promotional materials for the Easy Bake Ultimate Oven, as well as offering the product in different, non gender specific colors, i.e. primary colors.”
Apparently, all her brother wants for Christmas is “a dinosaur and an Easy Bake Oven”, but in this video that McKenna posted, the poor little guy seems to think that only girls can use his dream toy. Why? Because Hasbro’s marketing and commercials only show girls baking up sweet and tasty treats in their miniature plastic ovens. How these things actually cook is beyond us.
Having not been in the Easy Bake Oven market since we all played with them in the ’70s, we took a look at the current toy design and its packaging and have to say that McKenna raises a good point… the oven itself is now curvy and purple, emblazoned with all sorts of frilly swirls. That’s a far cry from the boxy, bright red (circa 1972) or bright yellow microwavish (circa 1980s) versions we remember. It’s 2012… how about a stainless steel version Hasbro? Or better yet, an Easy Bake modeled with Whirlpool’s new White Ice finish?
Then there’s the packaging. Today’s oven comes in a box that shows three very happy tween girls using it. No boys. Beyond that, if you do a simple Google search for “Easy Bake Oven” this is the top link that comes up. Notice the name of the product category they relegate it to… “Cooking & Baking Games For Girls”.
Last but not least, the landing page on the Hasbro site for the Easy Bake Oven clearly seals the deal on the obvious gender specific marketing the toy maker is using to hock this toy.
It all screams “girlie”, plain and simple.
While we are fully aware that all of this “girl talk” surrounding the Easy Bake Oven is being unashamedly orchestrated by Hasbro’s own design, what we don’t get is WHY they would choose to market this very cool toy ONLY to girls. This strategy doesn’t seem sound as it eliminates half of the potential consumer market.
What about the next generation of Bobby Flays and Guy Fieris? Are they not worthy of a little Easy Bake marketing attention? With some basic color, design and communications tweaks, Hasbro could have culinarily inclined boys lining up to get their hands on one of these ovens next Christmas, right alongside all the girls. From our perspective, it makes much more sense for the brand to corner the market, rather than ostracize a large portion of it by being overtly and unnecessarily “girlie”.
But maybe it’s much simpler (or lazier) than that. Maybe they just don’t want to break with history and evolve creatively. According to a NY Daily News article, “Since its creation in 1963, the oven has never featured a boy in advertising, commercials or packaging.” That’s almost 50 years since the “no boys allowed” message has been hanging on the Easy Bake Oven Clubhouse. It’s definitely time for a change Hasbro and we hope Mckenna Pope, a WYSK in the making, can help usher that in.
What we are happy to see is that Hasbro’s Easy Bake magic no longer requires a light bulb. That’s gotta count as some level of progress.