Mercedes-Benz partners with Mattel to create a gender-neutral toy

(May 23, 2019) If you give a girl a toy car, would she imagine winning a race or would she trade it in for a tea set? According to researchers, most young girls would go for the tea set, thanks to beliefs formed at an early age that some toys are meant for boys and others for girls. To challenge these perceptions, Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) and Mattel have teamed up to show children — particularly girls — that they can aspire to be and do anything they desire when there are no limits.

Tackling the issue of gender stereotypes, Mercedes-Benz will give thousands of girls across the nation a die-cast Matchbox replica of the Mercedes-Benz 220SE commemorating Ewy Rosqvist’s historic Argentinian Grand Prix performance. It was in this car that she shattered world records and the notion that women could not compete.

Mercedes-Benz has a rich history of celebrating women trailblazers dating back to Bertha Benz, wife of the inventor of the automobile. Bertha bucked convention and took the Patent Motorwagen on the first-ever, long-distance drive proving that this strange-looking contraption was a viable mode of transportation.

This year to celebrate International Women’s History Month, MBUSA released a short film — Ewy Rosqvist: An Unexpected Champion.

“Through Ewy’s story, we saw an opportunity to inspire young girls to ‘play outside the box’ and imagine all the different opportunities open to them without the restrictions of traditional stereotypes,” explained Mark Aikman, general manager of marketing services for MBUSA.

“We realized that these pioneering women from our past could serve as valuable role models for young girls today and have a positive impact on how they see their future. This led us to collaborate with Matchbox to create a tangible reminder for girls that there are no restrictions on their tomorrow.”

Can a tiny car really change the way our children see themselves?

Mercedes-Benz is betting on it, and they put it to the test. In the short clip, “No Limits,” the company captures young girls reacting to an assortment of toys. When handed a toy car, the girls dismiss it as being “for boys.” But after seeing the short film about Ewy Rosqvist, each of the girls has a visible attitude shift. This mirrors research suggesting that when young girls are exposed to strong positive messages about their gender, it helps to reduce the impact of stereotypes. (For those who have the opportunity to encourage and mentor young girls, check out this discussion guide.

The toy cars will be will be gifted by MBUSA and Mattel/Matchbox (as part of the Dream Gap Foundation) to thousands of young girls through a non-profit partner and sold in stores nationwide beginning in 2020. Proceeds from these sales will be used to make and distribute additional cars. In addition, a teaching toolkit will be provided.