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LEGO: From Toy Company to Multi-Media Brand

How does a toy company that sells easily replicable building blocks build an iconic brand? Our April issue of Chief Content Officer magazine explains the strategy LEGO used to fight copy-cat toy companies.

In the 1980s and 1990s, LEGO faced a tremendous threat from competing construction toys. After all, the very simplicity of LEGO’s building blocks also made them very easy to duplicate, both by small-scale copycats as well as established toy companies. LEGO unsuccessfully tried toblock Tyco Toys, Inc., from selling the Super Blocks series after LEGO’s patent ran out in 1983. The company knew it needed to build a powerhouse brand and integrated marketing approach to compete against a growing set of building-block imitators.

Today, LEGO is a content powerhouse, at times more closely resembling a media company than a toy company. Here’s a rundown of their integrated content marketing program.

Each LEGO storyline has a dedicated microsite with plot and character explanations, online games, movies, polls and quizzes, and of course retail links. Some great examples: LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Ninjago.


LEGO mini-movies
For each storyline release, LEGO produces a serial-style movie that runs both on cable and then eventually through the LEGO website. The Atlantis mini-movie, for example, premiered on Cartoon Network but is also now available at the Atlantis microsite.


LEGO Click
LEGO Click is a community platform that encourages fans and fanatics alike to share their LEGO creation photos and videos, download apps and explore LEGO themes through online games and storylines.

This community-inspired product extension allows customers to create their own LEGO design and packaging using the company’s Digital Designer software.

My LEGO Network
There is a new LEGO social network designed especially for children (with a high level of safety and parental controls). Members can create their own personal pages, win rewards, meet other LEGO fans and battle them in game modules, and watch LEGO TV. Oh the opportunities!

LEGO Universe
Here is a massive multi-player online game for the younger set.

LEGO Magazine
There is a kids magazine customized by local market and by age.

LEGO asks users to sign up for a free online ID that allows them to play multi-player games, contribute to LEGO galleries, and set up a personal page on My LEGO Network.

An activity that is of course beyond the aspirations of most marketers, LEGOLAND is the company’s theme park.

LEGO sidelined their competition through multimedia storytelling. And I cannot think of another toy company that comes close to the quality and variety of activity that LEGO has undertaken.

Would love to hear other examples of savvy brand storytelling. Which brands do you admire and what particular activities or tactics would you call out?