Goldieblox Makes History With This Commercial, Proving Pink Princess Culture Is Old


If you were tuned into the Superbowl this past weekend, you would have witnessed an absolute mind-blowing spectacle. No we aren’t talking about the blunders of Peyton Manning causing the Denver Broncos to lose to the Seattle Seahawks, and neither are we talking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ surprise appearance during the half-time show with Bruno Mars.

We are talking about one commercial which stood apart from the rest. Usually the Superbowl commercial line-up is a frenzy of beer, boobs, cars, and dudes (and Doritos). But not this time. Toy start-up company Goldieblox made Superbowl history by becoming the first small-business ever to air an advertisement during the game.

Most small businesses don’t air commercials during the Superbowl because they cost millions of dollars. Goldieblox won a competition held by personal finance software firm Intuit, where they offered $4 million to the winner who was chosen by a public vote.

Goldieblox was started by 30 year-old Engineer Debbie Sterling from Oakland, California who launched the toy company by raising money on Kickstarter in November 2012. Over the past 12 months they have gained a lot of attention with their viral ad featuring girls building a lifesize Rube Goldberg machine.

Debbie said she started the company because she was sick of the segregation still happening in toy stores between girls and boys. Girls are sold only pink, fluffy, girly feminine toys, and there is nothing to encourage their love of math, building, and innovating, which is where the idea for Goldieblox came about.


It is a first of its kind and will hopefully spur more toy companies to follow suit, or other creative engineers like Debbie to hack the toy mafia and create change on their own.

“We are taught from a very young age that we want to become princesses,” explained Sterling in a 2013 TED talk. “Just because this is the way things are doesn’t mean this is how they have to be.”

“It’s such a refreshing change to see empowered, active, fierce little girls — a departure from the representation of women in general during the Super Bowl,” said media critic Rachel Sklar to “It offsets GoDaddy and the like. And relaxing the strict framework in which the media depicts women feels like a vacation.”

“Toy ads typically teach girls that they should be shoppers, or sexy girlfriends, or caretakers (of pets, or babies, or dolls). And when it comes to girls’ toys themselves, they’re either hyper-sexual dolls like Bratz, or toy brooms and irons.” said Executive Director of Women in Media and News, Jennifer Pozner.

“The colors, language, and tone of kids commercials are gender segregated and regressive: girls are sold pastels and pink, with sing-song dialog and fairy tale packaging, while commercials targeting boys feature dark blues, purples and blacks, with violent imagery and words like ‘Fight! Battle! Win! War!’ It’s that pervasive form of cultural conditioning that the GoldieBlox ad responded to.”


It is an important conversation that can’t be ignored. Many studies have proven that eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression start as young as age 6 in some girls, and that it is largely due to the cultural trends that are just accepted as norm. Alongside Debbie, there are other key players changing the tone of the environment young girls grow up in.

Both Lego and Barbie released a range of strong female characters who finally have STEM careers. You can now purchase barbies and Lego figurines who are scientists, astronauts, veterinarians and inventors.

A Kentucky girls school called Mercy Academy released a controversial campaign in the fall of 2013 outlining what girls were going to expect when they enrolled in the school. They designed posters saying “Life is not a fairytale. You are not a princess” to encourage girls to use their brains and creative skills to equip themselves for life, rather than just chase the Disney Princess ideal of finding a Prince Charming.

And our fave was when Marvel studios launched a new program designed to get more girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers off the back of Natalie Portman’s astrophysicist character Jane in the movie ‘Thor’. It was a clever way of leveraging a popular movie to create a diverse outlook on life for young girls in society. Well done Marvel!

Here’s to all the women who are pushing the boundaries for the next generation of girls to grow up with a widened scope of what is possible in life. The pretty pink princess thing is old. Let’s build something a little more substantial and pave the way for the women of tomorrow to become the leaders in sectors like math, engineering, technology, science and innovation.


  1. This is awesome. I hope they go over big!

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