The Lego Movie may go down as the greatest piece of advertising of this century. It’s an hour and 41 minutes of nothing but product shots, using creative storytelling to forge a bond with current and prospective customers. The peak of emotional persuasion. Not only that, but instead of costing the company money like most marketing endeavors, this one actually brought in almost $470 million in worldwide gross (not all of which went into Lego’s pocket, of course). People paid to see it—enough so that they made a sequel that brought in about $190 million.
All to say that, as advertising goes, Lego has a pretty spotless track record lately. What we don’t actually see from the company is a good ole’ fashioned brand campaign, the kind others roll out at least annually to say “This is who we are” without focusing on any particular product. Until now. This week, Lego dropped its first traditional brand campaign in what the company says is about 30 years.
Created by agency BETC Paris, the spot imagines the real world with the kind of imagination and flexibility of physics available with the colorful building blocks. Rémi Marcelli, senior vice-president of the company’s internal creative shop The Lego Agency, says the brief was to inspire children to play and be creative in order to help them develop vital skills that will last them a lifetime. The Lego Agency is a 500-person global team, but Marcelli says they went with BETC because “sometimes it’s good to have a fresh perspective and have someone challenge you to view the world a little differently.”
The other goal of the campaign is to sell the idea and romance of Lego to parts of the world that didn’t grow up with it and don’t already have that nostalgic affinity to pass on to their kids. “We’re viewed as one of the most reputable brands in the world and have strong awareness amongst those people who know us and grew up with us,” Marcelli says. “But as we move into new markets such as China and India and try to bring Lego play to more children around the world, people don’t know the brand, and they aren’t familiar with building and creating with Lego. This campaign is about inspiring that creativity and encouraging people, parents and children, to embrace the power of play.”
BETC founder and creative director Rémi Babinet says the challenge was to find a way to illustrate the creative potential of Lego. “Creativity is highly meaningful to today’s parents who value it as an essential skill their children need in order to thrive in an ever changing world,” says Babinet.
Maybe that’s why the new ad is incredibly precious, doubling down on twee as if the brand were going for what a Lego ad directed by Wes Anderson might look like. To that end, it also feels aimed squarely at adult eyes. It’s a cute little story, but anyone under 12 may be slightly more excited about the new Harry Potter or Overwatch sets than an adorable bunny rabbit chase.
What the bunny does do is remind parents of the their kids’ creative potential, far away from the dreaded screens. Just don’t tell them about the new AR-enabled Hidden Side sets.