Friday, June 24 2011 19:00

Is CARS 2 forgetting that little girls like CARS TOO?

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cars2posterMuch to the delight of children everywhere, DISNEY/PIXAR have finally released CARS 2, the sequel to the 2006 hit that features a host of colorful anthropomorphic autos on a globetrotting adventure. As goes with the territory, there's a merchandise explosion, with nearly every store bursting at the seams with licensed CARS 2 toys, clothing, games, and more. While the film features a female 'lead' of sorts with the purple car HOLLEY SHIFTWELL (voiced by Emily Mortimer) joining the story along with SALLY CARRERA (voiced by Bonnie Hunt) and LIZZIE (voiced by Katherine Helmond) from the original CARS - good luck finding any tie-in merch aimed at little girls.

My daughter (almost two) absolutely loves CARS. We have the first movie on DVD, and she pulls it from the shelf and carries it around the house saying the word "cars" in her sweet little voice to anyone that will listen. When the TV spots for CARS 2 come on TV, she shout's "Cars!" as a big smile overcomes her face. She has a set of toy cars (not from the movies) that she loves scooting around with on the floor. With all the hype surrounding the new film in recent weeks, I had every intention of getting her something from the new film - and that was a feat easier said than done.

I was shocked to discover that in Wal-Mart and Target, there are NO products associated with CARS 2 being sold for girls. With dozens of items available, you'd think there would be a HOLLEY SHIFTWELL t-shirt around - perhaps a group shot printed on pink or purple or even white? Nope. All of the clothing is marked "boys," even that which could be considered unisex. Well, how about a HOLLEY SHIFTWELL toy car? Since there's a few different versions printed on the back of other packages, you'd think there would be one somewhere in the store, right? Nope. An entire section devoted to the merchandise in the front of the Supercenter, two full pallets in the main aisle, and a full section in the toy department - not a single HOLLEY anywhere.

cars2 greenshirtA search for CARS 2 "GIRLS" products on the Toys R Us website brings up only some old-fashioned, wooden block style cars, while a search for"CARS 2 HOLLEY" features five items (one is the wood block car). The same search at Target displays a whopping one item - out of stock. While most of the toys actually seem to be poorly made, especially the $20-a-pop larger age 3+ cars made of plastic with paper decals on them, my main interest was to find my daughter a CARS 2 t-shirt of some kind. What better place than The Disney Store, right? Wrong again. There they at least have "boys" and "kids," at least acknowledging that it's ok for everyone to like cars, but in the end I ended up back at Wal-Mart for a CARS 2 character shirt printed on the fairly neutral color of green.

This is the first time I've experienced this first hand, but the lesson learned seems to be that consumer culture starts fueling exclusion at a very young age.

In a world where some girls grow up to be racecar drivers like Danica Patrick, it's foolish for companies to think that little girls wouldn't like CARS 2.

Has anyone else had an experience like this?

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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