With Whimsical Film, Lego Unveils Its First Global Brand Campaign in Decades

Toymaker celebrates the power of creativity

lego global campaign
Lego's "Rebuild the World" campaign was created by its in-house agency in partnership with BETC. Lego
Headshot of Minda Smiley

Give a kid some Lego bricks, and chances are they’ll use their imagination to concoct a far-fetched creation like a firefighter using an elephant’s trunk to put out some flames.

That’s at least the premise behind the brand’s latest campaign, which rolls out today. According to Lego, this will be the Danish company’s first global brand campaign in 30 years. While Lego has created other global work in recent years, like this holiday spot that ran last year, its new “Rebuild the World” effort is the first in decades to spread a unified brand message around the world.

Created by both Lego’s internal agency and Paris-based BETC, the crux of the campaign is a nearly two-minute film that takes viewers inside a child’s imagination. In the animated video, it becomes clear only at the end that the many characters involved in a Tom and Jerry-esque chase around a city are actually made of Lego bricks.

According to the toymaker, every character, animal and vehicle seen in the film is based on an existing or past Lego toy. The concept makes for interesting and playful snippets throughout the video—for instance, at one point, a man receiving a haircut turns his entire head around so his barber doesn’t have to move. Later in the film, a flying boat is powered by a spinning palm tree.

The campaign also includes a series of out-of-home ads, a number of which challenge gender stereotypes.

Additionally, some digital out-of-home spots bring quirky Lego creations to life. The digital ads will appear in cities including London, Paris, Beijing, Mexico City, Berlin, San Francisco and New York.

The campaign, which is running on TV, in cinemas, online and out-of-home, is Lego’s first collaboration with BETC. According to Remi Marcelli, Lego’s senior vice president and head of its 500-person in-house agency, the brand wanted an external partner to help it unearth an element of surprise around Lego that might have been difficult to do internally.

“We needed that outside-in perspective that would help us push ourselves to be surprising enough,” Marcelli said. “We wanted an execution that would trigger people’s attention. The worst enemy of advertising is to be unnoticed, regardless of your media investment, so we wanted to have something that was extremely surprising and yet true to the core of the Lego brand.”

Additionally, he said that BETC, famous for its Evian “Live Young” work, is good at giving “purpose and meaning to brands” on a global scale.

“They are well-known for finding long-lasting platforms or brand ideas that could give birth to several executions in a very smart way,” he said. 

The ad blitz comes two years after Lego experienced a slowdown following years of “supernatural growth,” in Marcelli’s words. As the company rebounds from the slump—earlier this month, Lego said global consumer sales grew 5% in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2018—he said the 87-year-old toymaker wants to “anticipate” the next wave of growth and re-establish its prominent role in the toy industry.

Much of this involves focusing on the importance of learning problem-solving skills and the different ways that Lego can help foster creativity in children.

“People sometimes lose sight of the fact that the act of building with Lego is creative, regardless of whether you’re following the instructions or not,” Marcelli said. “Overall, the ambition is to make sure that we remind the world of the full value of Lego.”

He said Lego’s latest endeavor isn’t a repositioning, per se, but rather an opportunity to “loudly and clearly [say] who we’ve always been and who we still are today,” which involved striking a balance between bringing a sense of freshness to the brand while still staying authentic to its roots.

Lego spent $68 million on paid media last year in the U.S., according to figures from Kantar Media. In the first half of this year, it spent $13 million.

@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.