Hasbro and Ogilvy Created a Simple, Lovely Ad About Why Boys Should Play With Dolls

Brazilian spot highlights the benefits of learning to care for and about others

By playing with dolls, boys learn to be compassionate and helpful to others, Hasbro points out in the new spot. Hasbro Brazil
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We may not have realized it at the time, but the toys we used to play with often doubled as tools of gendered socialization.

It’s actually a little funny when you take a moment to think about it: We—children and adults alike—have long allowed heaps of plastic, bolts and rubber to dictate how we’re “supposed” to exercise our imaginations, limiting boys to liking race cars and robots while dolls were left to the girls as maternal training.

It can seem like such a small thing at that time, but the attitudes that lead to the idea that “boys can’t play with dolls” and other weirdly narrow assertions are contagious and can endure through generations. Kids are impressionable, after all.

Thankfully, a new campaign from Ogilvy Brazil aims to do away with the notion that dolls are reserved for a single gender. “We All Can Take Care” features a 60-second spot that shows boys readily playing with the Baby Alive doll by Hasbro.

Among the heap of popular toys (including subtle cameos from Mr. Potato Head and a resting Transformer), the boys can be seen playing cooperatively with the baby doll through nurturing moments of “care.” Scenes that include changing the doll’s diaper or pretending to be doctors reflect some of the developmental benefits that come with playing with dolls during adolescence, according to educator and author Maria Angela Barbato.

“It leads to emotional development, new ways of interacting and learning what respect is all about,” she says in a statement about the campaign launch. “The advice I would give to parents is: let your children play.”

“Our challenge is to show that both girls and boys can learn a lot from playing with dolls,” adds Kellen Silverio, marketing director for Hasbro in Brazil. “This is a free-spirited, playful gesture that nurtures love and that counts for much in helping children growing up to become human beings who care for one another.”

What stands out most about Ogilvy’s approach to the subject—one that is still considered progressive in today’s cultural climate—is the ad’s casual framing. The idea of boys playing with dolls is not presented as a social experiment or otherwise deemed an anomaly, but a reminder that this is just how children play without the intervention of societal constraints.

Instead of outlining all of the reasons that boys should play with dolls, Ogilvy and Hasbro pose the simple question, “Why not?”

Agency: Ogilvy Brazil
Campaign: We All Can Take Care
Product Baby Alive
Client: Hasbro
Chief Executive: Fernando Musa
Chief Creative Officer: Félix del Valle
Executive Creative Director: Márcio Fritzen
Associate Creative Director: Mathias Almeida, Teco Cipriano
Art Director: Teco Cipriano, Gabriella Pimentel, Thomaz Maksud
Copywriter: Mathias Almeida, Ygor Silva, Guilherme Rio
Producers: Fabiano Beraldo, Paty Silveira, Hellen Gazetta
Account: Denise Caruso, Felipe Obara, Renata Flores
Planning: Thais Frazão, Cleber Almeida, Mariana Crepaldi, Tu Moon
Media: André Gramorelli, Adeildo Souza, Danielle Conti, Stefanie Gambier, Vitoria Soares, Agnes Han
Ogilvy Content Studio: Gustavo Otto, Thiago Frias, Rayra Janau, Leonardo Araujo, Thiago Bancaro, Maria Eduarda Neves, Giovanne Formis, Ana Beatriz Almeida, Natalia Antunes, Fernando Badô
Video Editor: Deydson Rocha
Client Approval: Kellen Silverio, Vanessa Giangiacomo

Production House: Corazon Filmes
Director: Will Mazzola
Executive Director: Igor Ferreira
Executive Producer: Renato Chabuh
Account: Marcia Branco, Mary Lacoleta, Maria Eugênia
Photography: Ted Abel
Team Corazon: Júlia Kannebley, Danielle Oliveira, Juliana Sigolo, Fe Bley, Mariana Becker, Lucas Aires
Pos Production/Motion: Matheus Scatolini, Hub Vfx

Sound Production: Shuffle Audio
Team Shuffle: Alexandre Marcondes, Henrique Ruiz Nicolau, Chico Castellano

Shannon Miller is a writer, podcast creator and contributor to Adweek.