It has been hard to move for yellow plastic men this month, with one of the world’s most endearing toy manufacturers hitting big screens and peak time ITV ad breaks. But there’s more to the brand’s good fortune than Hollywood tie-ins.
Of course The LEGO Movie certainly hasn’t done LEGO any harm in terms of status and public exposure. Arguably the best example of content marketing ever, it arrived to widespread acclaim in this country on 14th February after hitting the number one box office spot in America, the flick was such a major talking point Britain’s biggest commercial broadcaster decided to re-make a host of current adverts by way of paying homage to the much-loved play things. Which, if you missed them, looked something like this:
Quite an achievement, especially considering James Bond had to settle for just a solitary Heineken spot last time he made an appearance, realistically speaking cinema releases such as The LEGO Movie are a marketer’s dream because the heritage and instantly recongisable iconography associated with the company is so strong. The story, as they say, sells itself, albeit the enormous budget Warner Brothers allocated to the cause probably came in useful too (with the theatrical campaign beginning back in October last year).
One key reason for this popularity is the fact most of us, at one point or another, have owned some LEGO toys. But that wouldn’t be true without a constant presence in the minds of both children and parents. So how has the firm retained its sizeable stake in the fast-moving toy industry for this long, soaking up increasingly stiff competition from more technologically advanced Christmas and birthday presents- not least the console and video games industry?
As Christopher Radcliffe wrote about ‘possibly the most warmly regarded brand on the planet’ for Econsultancy not so long ago, LEGO has shown itself particularly deft when it comes to online strategy and social reach. Free mobile games are aimed at kids whilst appealing to bill-payers thanks to the lack of hidden costs. Two years back, 4,000 little ones helped construct the world’s largest ever tower of brightly coloured bricks in Seoul, South Korea, resulting in the kind of video assets destined to go viral. There’s even Brickipedia, the Wikipedia of LEGO.
Elsewhere, bespoke crowdsourcing site LEGO CUUSO has been set up to take suggestions from the public on new play set designs. Any that receive more than 10,000 public votes are sent to research and development and could potentially be produced for retail. Winning ideas so far have included Back To The Future, Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary and NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover. All of which fits in with our own idea of engaging with the public’s penchant for a good yarn- inspiring people to dream up their own LEGO scenarios.
By building an entire universe- ranging from ‘the classics’ such as workmen digging up a road to more fantastical concepts like the recent Marvel PS4 game- the company has perpetuated the idea that if man, movies and legends can do it then anyone can with the right LEGO pieces. In turn this offers endless possibilities for marketing departments, but more importantly, it promotes LEGO’s fundamental ethos. Whether six or 60, you can’t play without imagination, and by inspiring the public to use theirs the brand name and core principle- anything is possible- become further cemented in the consumer conscious.