On average there are 86 pieces of Lego for every person on earth (Lego, 2016).
That’s 612 750 000 000 pieces of Lego. Seriously.
Half of which I sometimes think is on my 4 year olds bedroom floor.
And that’s the way many people instinctively see Lego. As a children’s toy.
With the world’s children spending 5 billion hours a year playing with Lego bricks (National Geographic, 2015), they are not wrong. But at one point, the company’s eyes were wide shut on who their customers really were.
Knowing the Customer.
For over seventy years Lego has been a household name, however for a long time they took a single lens on their customer; that is, they did not talk, accept ideas or suggestions and continued creating products based on what they believed their consumers wanted (ONeil, 2010). This undesirable approach to organizational culture and behavior, which can contribute to IMC implementation failures (Otus et al, p 133), put the company in a precarious situation.
Faced with bankruptcy in 2004, Lego could no longer ignore the Retailers pleas to take another look at the changing market. Yes, children still loved Lego, but the company had missed a clear differentiator for the brand – it’s the only product on the market that actually grows up with the child without changing its form.
Refreshed marketing goals.
It took a decade, but with some renewed focus on the customer, Troy Taylor, Lego Australia Marketing Director, coins the company’s Christmas 2015 campaign as a “more integrated push” to “create more family traditions around building” (Micallef, 2015).
With the Brand in maturity, awareness has already permeated the market and customers had set attitudes (Iacobucci, p147). As such driving brand awareness was not a primary goal, customers needed to re-connect to Lego and change their attitude and ultimately change behaviour toward the product. Iacobucci suggests that in this context a cognitive advertising approach would not work – they already knew they could buy Lego, they just needed to be persuaded to change what they are buying it for (p147).
This understanding about how children and adults were using Lego, combined with a marketing effort to “get bricks in hands”, ultimately led to an emotional approach to advertising to get families back to building together (Micallef, 2015).
And what better time is there is Christmas to launch a campaign that aims to create new family rituals.
Making all customer touchpoints work together.
Cleverly, before Lego launched their mass Television campaign, they ran a social media promotion for families to submit their own Lego Tree Topper, of which the winners would appear in the Commercial. This approach immediately encouraged optimal behavior, and ingeniously drove word of mouth not only about the promotion, but for new uses of the product. In this context, Word of Mouth can be very rewarding because it brings in new customers – and new customers are hard to find. (Iacobucci, p173)
While TV had provided immediate reach to the campaign, Iacobucci suggests that a true IMC approach “is about integrating a brand message across any media, not just traditional advertising outlets” (p165), so complimentary mediums were needed to amplify the message.
The installation of a 10 metre tall Lego Christmas Tree was supported by an integrated campaign that ignited #LegoXmas through social media, public relations, activations and You Tube. A story was built in these channels using interesting and engaging content that culminated in the crowd pleasing tree reveal in Melbourne’s Federation Square.
A power not to be reckoned with.
Once LEGO realised that understanding their target market was critical within an integrated marketing communications plan, the Company rebuilt to become one of FORBES Most Powerful Brands in 2015 (Durkin, 2015).
So if the brand is here to stay, remind me again how to avoid stepping on all those little blocks on my 4 year olds bedroom floor?
Lego (2016) Lego Facts Lego Education website, retrieved 14 May 2016 <https://education.lego.com/en-au/about-us/lego-education-worldwide/lego-facts>
National Geographic (2015) Lego Facts National Geographic 2 August, retrieved 14 May 2016 <http://www.natgeotv.com.au/history/lego-facts.aspx>
ONeil M. (2010) Then & Now: How Fans changed the face of Legos marketing strategy Social Times, 9 June, retrieved 14 May 2016 <http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/how-fans-changed-the-face-of-legos-marketing-strategy/15645>
M Otus & G Nilasy (2015) Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC): Why does it fail? An analysis of practitioner mental models exposes barriers of IMC Implementation Journal of Advertising Research, 1 June, pp132-145
Micallef R (2015) Lego builds on strategy; brings giant christmas tree to Melbourne AdNews, 20 November, retrieved 14 May 2016 <http://www.adnews.com.au/news/lego-builds-on-strategy-brings-giant-christmas-tree-to-melbourne>
Iacobucci D. (2014) Marketing Management (MM4) South-Western, Cenage Learning, Mason USA, 4th Edition, p145-181.
Durkin P (2015) Lego: brink of bankruptcy to 2015s Most Powerful Brand Financial Review, October 12, retrieved 14 May 2016 <http://www.afr.com/leadership/lego-brink-of-bankruptcy-to-2015s-most-powerful-brand-20151006-gk2bf3>