TBWA\MCR’s campaign for Legoland hints at new ‘modular’ approach to global marketing
It is the agency’s first campaign for the theme park since winning the account earlier this year.
TBWA\MCR’s new campaign for Legoland follows a visitor as he explores the imaginative park / Lego/TBWA\MCR
Legoland marketing boss Ash Tailor is on a mission to build up his brand’s presence around the globe. It already has 10 parks (including one that opened last year in Chuncheon, Korea), and plans to expand to new sites in the near future.
But marketing a brand across such a disparate set of markets – from Denmark to Dubai, California to Korea – while staying true to its household name master brand is necessarily difficult.
He, and the brand’s new lead creative shop TBWA\MCR, hope that a fresh campaign can thread the needle.
The winning pitch
Tailor, who’s vice-president of global brand and marketing, says the company needed “a great global agency that can help me understand how consumers think and feel in Korea, or Billund or Deutschland.” Furthermore, he needed an agency that could navigate Legoland’s relationship with Lego, with which Legoland operator Merlin works closely (Merlin is also part-owned by Kirkbi, the family holding company behind the Lego Group).
“We were looking for an agency that really understands the brand and understands that this is actually a brand in service to a master brand,” he explains.
Despite the size of that brief, Tailor eschewed the typical intermediary-led process and approached one of Merlin’s existing agencies to see if they’d be interested. “We’ve got a great relationship with an existing supplier already, that’s why we went down that route rather than a full-blown, agency pitch process,” he adds.
According to TBWA\MCR’s chief exec Fergus McCallum, the agency’s track record in the sector, as well as the chance to pull in support from TBWA agencies elsewhere, helped seal the deal. “TBWA\MCR is a specialist in the leisure sector, with extensive experience in all aspects of destination marketing. We already work internationally in the sector and are also able to draw upon in-market intel from partner TBWA\Worldwide agencies,” he says.
Its work on the company’s Alton Towers and Gardaland properties weighed in its favor. “When we pitched our approach to the Legoland Global team, the demonstrable effectiveness of our previous work with Merlin and our understanding of the challenges and opportunities open to Legoland led us to secure the business and lead agency remit,” he says.
Legoland, the second largest parks business in the world, is going through a transition of its own, says Tailor. Its new CEO, Scott O’Neill, has been in post for three months, and its expansion plans follow a tough couple of years for the ‘location-based entertainment’ category.
Windsor, one of its best-established locations, just announced a new expansion of its resort capacity, as it hopes to tempt tourists away from London proper and stay on site.
Tailor wants to make its approach to marketing as modular as one of Lego’s own kits. “If I’ve got a park over in New York, and they just got a new waterpark and water splash area, [creative based on that] is much more relevant to them than, for example, a TVC created for Legoland Billund, which is focusing on resort positioning,” he explains.
The new campaign, he says, marks a “step change“ for the business. “Pardon the pun, but it’s a way to build, unbuild and rebuild the creative,” he adds.
In ’Where imaginations build and build’, the viewer follows the journey of a brother and sister as they follow a Lego brick road to ‘Legotopia,’ a location representing an amalgam of each of the Legoland parks. Alongside the film, the agency has produced a ’modular toolkit’ with over 770 assets that can be combined and recombined to suit each market’s needs. The campaign will roll out across TV, web, social, display and email channels in North America, the UK, Europe, Japan, Korea and Dubai.
“Our aim,“ says McCallum, “was to clearly put the ’land’ back in Legoland and showcase its vital role within the Lego universe to accelerate the playful participation, imagination and freedom of thought it inspires in children.”
Merlin works very closely with Lego itself, says Tailor. “We’re the sub-brand to an amazing master brand. When our guests walk through the door, what they see is the brand Lego. We have a close working relationship with the Lego organization, much closer since 2019 [when Kirkbi acquired its stake]. I sit on a board alongside the chief strategy officer for Merlin, alongside Lego chief marketing officer Julia Goldin and my counterpart within the partnerships division at Lego.”
As such, TBWA\MCR’s lead creative brief means that it’ll be designing new work that has to be suited to different markets, and to Lego’s own sensibilities. Lego, of course, already has a large advertising operation, with creative produced by its acclaimed in-house agency. McCallum says the agency will collaborate with Lego “at all stages to ensure that our work complements the master brand whilst remaining in service to the Legoland mission and proposition.”
According to Tailor, matching that tone is something his own team works at each day. “When [guests] come to Legoland, Lego comes to Life. You get to play with more bricks than you've ever played with before. You’ll see a Lego dragon eight foot tall and actually, if you had enough bricks at home, you could make it. That’s the level of inspiration and creativity we‘re trying to spark every single day. That’s what we wanted to capture.”