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Found Feminism: HSBC Lemonade Stand Advert

2012 February 20

Now, as the opening music rose I’m sure you cringed as much as I did. But when our enterprising lemonade maker launched into a different language, did you smile instead? There’s a tendency to ignore or overlook the marketing campaigns of big business and to assume that nothing they ever do can possibly be for the good. After all, they’re trying to sell us products and services, right? But marketing tries to make us empathise, and to capture our hopes, dreams and ideas for the future. It also guns for mass market appeal.

So here’s the idea: a clever little girl can grow up to be a multinational business leader.

The lemonade stand metaphor is an interesting one, and certainly well used in the fields of business and commerce. It’s used as the basis of training games for pricing models, economics theory (there’s a nice Calvin and Hobbes one here), maths tutorials and host of other skills needed to run your own business. It’s not just a cute thing that kids do; it’s also about how we introduce children, boys and girls, to the world of work.

The models we use for “work” within childhood play set the tone for how we expect children to behave and the roles they might grow into. I remember books on work with pictures of male pilots and female air hostesses. Mothers cleaning the house whilst fathers returned from work. Some of these have since been pleasingly updated, including the Richard Scarry books.

I was told by a friend of mine (who was a boy) that he couldn’t play with pots and pans because they were “for girls”. We must have been about six. Even though we were actually a rock band. With wooden spoons instead of drumsticks. Maybe we were a girl band.


I like the fact that this campaign could have just as easily been done with a young boy and his mother, but instead we have a girl and her dad. A decisive, smart and multi-lingual little girl. Her loving and supportive father, blown away by his daughter’s abilities.

Future businesswoman of the year, perhaps?

5 Responses leave one →
  1. February 20, 2012

    I find it really interesting that there’s a Hong Kong version too, where the girl addresses the mother and her son in Cantonese or Mandarin (I presume), saying that she takes Hong Kong Dollars, and that the board at the end has a different set of world currencies.

    (And posting this has made me realise that the consumers in both cases are a mother and her son …)

  2. May 19, 2012

    I love this adverb. one of the best I’ve seen, even its encouraging kids about knowing another language is one of the way to make them special from others. the Chinese adverb is so much better. the kid got a future

  3. November 21, 2012

    Great add but still don’t know what the little girl say after receiving the Hong Kong dollers,
    It sounds like tacha anti…is this thank you in mandarin maybe…..can anybody tell me as its driving me nuts not knowing

  4. John Kennedy permalink
    February 6, 2013

    I hate to burst bubbles, but this advert drives me nuts. Anyone who has ever attempted to accept foreign money into an HSBC account will know exactly what I mean. You get charged £12 for a foreign cheque for example. I even asked 3 different departments in HSBC “but how does the little lemonade girl do it?” and they just laughed at me.

  5. Nathan permalink
    August 16, 2014

    What does “nay un guma” mean driving me mad

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