Modern Marketing Lego Asia

Speaking universal truths while taking risk; Lego on campaigns in Asia


By Benjamin Cher | Reporter

June 1, 2017 | 8 min read

How would you market toys in a region where kids are expected to follow a model of success, and play is not considered as important?

Build Amazing SG sets

Lego talks about taking risks and speaking truths

For Lego, dealing with the “tiger moms” in Asia has led to speaking universal truths about what it takes to fully develop the potential of a child today according to Kevin Hagino, senior regional brand manager (SEA), Lego.

“The picture of success can be anything, it all depends on what that child wants to envision for their own life. This generation [of parents] are starting to think differently, as in there is an element of creativity and imagination that can help foster that, it’s not a one way route anymore,” Hagino told The Drum.

“Lego wants to help people understand, parents especially, and embrace that there can not only be different routes to that future, and how we value that future can be different, how creativity can maximise the potential of the kid,” he added.

This has culminated in the #LegoBuildAmazing campaigns in Asia, one of which saw children’s imagination turned into reality, and another where an overworked father sees his son’s creation that would help him spend more time with his son. These campaigns were created together with Lego’s agency iris, and the reactions captured was all candid.

These are followed by the recent #BuildAmazingSG contest where kids could submit their Lego creation of what makes Singapore amazing, and the release of Singapore food culture mini-builds.

As kids love to play with Lego, impacting that next generation by developing their cognitive ability is thus key to Lego’s campaigns and activations according to Hagino.

“We can actually impact not only the future potential of that child, but we are actually able to impact many kids at that age (between 0 to eight years old), we can impact the next generation of kids, the next person who can come up with the Google idea,” said Hagino, alluding to the fact that Google initially used Lego to build racks to hold their servers.

“All those guys never came from traditional ways of schooling or academia, not to discredit schooling, but it’s above and beyond actually nurturing creativity and impacting the future. It’s about the kids but also about impacting the next generation who will be the next leaders.

Putting bricks in local hands

These campaigns in Asia also resulted from research, where Lego found that countries like India didn’t grow up with the brand. Thus it sought to focus on putting more bricks into the hands of kids.

“When we talked to these moms, they said that with their child, it is not enough anymore to just go to school, they really want their kids to stand out. They believed that the only way for their kids to stand out is either by a sense of discipline or creativity,” said Hagino.

“That, we felt,was really powerful, they see those two elements as really contributing to the success of their child, and hence when they understand the proposition of Lego has to offer, they think it is exactly what they want to provide for their child, as well as the kids find it fun too,” he added.

While the overarching vision for Lego might be to build amazing things, localising the vision is what sets the campaigns apart. Lego’s campaign for Singapore sees food culture icons recreated in Lego, and is part of Lego’s localising efforts.

“From an organisational standpoint we have the ability to localise things in a way that makes the most sense for the local market. With that flexibility we thought about what is amazing about Singapore, we were thinking about it and what makes Singapore amazing is the people, the food, the culture,” said Rohan Mathur, senior marketing manager, Singapore, Lego.

“It proves the point that with Lego you can build anything,” he added.

Allowing local offices to make campaigns locally and culturally relevant while “still speaking the truths that are regionally and globally recognised,” according to Hagino has led to recognition of Asia’s efforts from other regions.

“For some pieces of content that we did, we get calls from North America or the UK that want to do a special on it, and these are very large platforms. Even if we put the stuff up on the global Facebook page, from the Taiwan campaign to the SG50 campaign, we get parents saying ‘wow this really touches me, I really understand what they are trying to say,’” said Hagino.

“The truths we address are universally appreciated, and speaks to people wherever they’re from. I think that’s how we can make that really interesting balance, both locally interesting but globally truthful,” he added.

While making sure a campaign is locally relevant, the aim is still for parents to takeaway the message of valuing and impacting the future potential of their child according to Hagino.

“It’s about customising where it makes the biggest impact, if we can get a local flavour out of that content, that is definitely one strong way to put that top spin,” said Hagino.

Risk taking needs reason

While innovation and risk taking is on the lips of almost everyone today, Hagino cautions that there has to be a purpose behind the risk taking, and not just take the risk for risk taking’s sake.

“The bigger picture to risk taking is that a lot of companies take risks without a reason for the risk, innovate without the reason for the innovation. But is the risk connected back to the brand, is the innovation connected back to the brand?” said Hagino.

Lego itself has taken risks with its #LegoBuildAmazing campaign, from spending on an out of home media buy for its Taiwan campaign to actually building the children’s idea for the Singapore campaign. This boils down to making a statement claims Hagino.

“The reason why we took the risk is to make a statement that we are going to make this investment risk on your child. Even we will spend X amount of dollars on media, do you not spend time with your child,” said Hagino.

“The reason why we took such a big risk on the flying candy cloud, is to tell parents that we are taking a big risk in just doing justice to what makes your kid amazing, because we recognise how special the creativity and future potential of your child, which is really invaluable to their future,” he added.

Lego’s monetary risk still all points back to the core message of impacting the next generation of kids to be as successful as they can be.

“It’s just matching up monetary risk to point out an invaluable truth about kids. Everything will point back to kids and how valuable they are to us and recognise that we are looking at the next generation,” said Hagino.

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