A Campaign To 'Save Girlhood'

Whether parents like it or not, most American marketing to preteen girls in recent years has been aimed at making them feel and shop like members of a half-pint segment of the adult world.

And it has worked: preteen girls today are fashion junkies, hip to the iPod, the cell phone and the computer, followers of Britney, Lindsay and even Paris.

Now, CBS News correspondent Mika Brzezinski reports, one hot pre-teen company is bucking the trend with a campaign aimed at parents determined to "Save Girlhood" and the rich pastel world of unicorns, rainbows and smiley faces they inhabit.

The American Girl company, which sells toys, books and accessories for preteens including the popular American Girl doll, has introduced the "Save Girlhood" campaign and a Web site with a message for pre-teens and their moms that girls are growing up too fast these days.

Will such a campaign work?

Chris Byrne, editor-at-large of Toys and Family magazine who is known online as theToyGuy, points to the success of the American Girl doll series as evidence that this company may know what it's doing.

The dolls are a kind of anti-Barbie, a collectible series of characters in historical costume representing "courageous and spirited" girls from diverse backgrounds. The dolls, along with their accessories and related publications, racked up $379 million in sales last year.

You might think a girl would be into either the American Girl doll or a doll like the Bratz series, with its focus on hot fashions and cool attitudes, but not both.

"You'd think so, but they actually sit side by side in the toy box," says Byrne. "It's different dolls at different times. This is how girls experience their preteen years."

The company's "Save Girlhood" ad campaign focuses on the sweet, young and simple side of today's preteen girl, and calls on parents to preserve the magic of childhood and help their girls reject the vampy messages they are barraged with.

In the age of growing up too fast, Byrne says, this company has found a huge consumer base that wants to slow down. This is the first big ad campaign in the company's 20-year history.
  • Carol Kopp

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