Commentary

LEGOs, LEGOs, And More Damned LEGOs: Toy Brand Builds Deep Integration with Cartoon Network

Leggo-Splash

Any parent of small children knows the sinking feeling that comes when their kid gets the dreaded present with a thousand pieces. These usually come via your single sister or brother (the beloved, hyper-generous aunt or uncle) who is exacting some kind of puckish revenge on the parental sibling. "Oh, how nice, Janey, Aunt Sue got you the play grocery store with 5,000 plastic blueberries," you "celebrate" while shooting eye-daggers at your sister. "Thanks, sis. You gonna come over here and find those damn berries when they end up strewn across the living room," you ask Aunt Sue later.

Traditionally, LEGO gets a special pass in this regard. This defies parents' better judgment, by the way. There is nothing quite as painful to the bare-soled paternal foot as a LEGO you walk upon on your way to comfort a crying child at 3 am. Still, few toys have so much good will on bank. Parents associate the toy with their own youth, and the company's brilliant branding as a creative tool for youngsters is hard to decry. And damn, those 20-foot high LEGO dinosaurs and LEGO Chewbaccas are pretty hard to resist. In recent years LEGO allied with video game manufacturers to partner on game versions of popular franchise films ("Star Wars," Pirates, et. al.) using LEGO-ized versions of the main characters. They have infiltrated kids' cartoons as well, and so appropriately, they are chief sponsors of video and other digital assets at CartoonNetwork.com

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Like plastic blocks penetrating the couch seat cushions and drilling deeply into the shag carpet, LEGO is doing a deep integration with the Turner Broadcasting site in a special section. LEGO is sponsoring video and games related to many of its cartoon extensions like "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Hero Factory."

They are sponsoring a Spinjitsu Smash DX online game and also offering LEGO branded characters and logos CN visitors can use on the site profiles. You access more LEGO assets by acquiring achievement badges in games and watching short form videos. The marketing partnership was executed by LEGO's AOR Starcom and will extend through the year and across the on-air shows. LEGO VP of Marketing Mike Moynihan says in a statement that the deep integration reflects the ways in which fans are experiencing content across platforms and franchises.

In being everywhere on the site, and now in our consciousness, LEGO has performed that rare feat of crafting a brand strategy that mimics the real-life behavior of its product, forever underfoot but somehow always morphing into something adorable, creative and ultimately disposable.

Ouch! Damn! Kids, I want to see all of these LEGOs off the living room floor and in a box in the next five minutes or they are all going in the trash. Aunt Sue is getting opera tickets for her birthday. That will teach her. 
3 comments about "LEGOs, LEGOs, And More Damned LEGOs: Toy Brand Builds Deep Integration with Cartoon Network".
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  1. Thomas Kennon from Free Radicals, August 22, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.

    Great shout-out, Steve, to a brand who truly knows how to get integrated with the consumer --- beyond the livingroom floor and deep into to heads, hearts and hands.

    Add to the list the brand nirvana of massive consumer-generated content. My 10-year old turned me onto the parallel universe of kids (clearly of all ages) generating hundreds of millions of "earned" views for the Lego brand with the thousands of stop-action shorts that upload fresh daily from around the globe.

    A quick search on Youtube buys you entry into this amazing world of planet Lego UGC -- everything from hilarious Eddie Izzard re-enactments to the high-quality range found here http://youtu.be/z0z_TU4Gw5o

    Authentic, human generated brand equity that is quite literally impossible to buy, and priceless by value.

    Thom Kennon | @tkennon | +thom kennon | bigevidence.blogspot.com

  2. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, August 22, 2011 at 3:23 p.m.

    Lego has mastered this type of integration. Partly, they remain adult in their integration. A recent Lego Star Wars cartoon shows that superbly - with that spirit of Toy Story making it as enjoyable for parents as for the kids. (Including cameo's for a Lego George Lucas.)

    But they also don't succeed always and, as a parent, the all lego - all the time nature of some of the programming is getting to be a bit concerning. My sense is they are over-playing their hand right now and in about 3-4 years will slump as a result.

    And they need to take care. Considerable brand equity was lost a my household among my boys with a miserably bobbled released of the Lego Universe game - massively overpriced along with high monthly fees only to be inoperative in our Mac world.

    Fortunately, they hit enough to withstand a brand bobble like that.

  3. Ronald Stack from Zavee LLC, August 22, 2011 at 4:32 p.m.

    Did you really tag this "Kids 6-11"? One of the brilliant things about Lego is that kids can stay engaged well into their teen years and beyond. My 16 year old creates all sorts of projects just from the thousands of pieces he has acquired (and neatly filed) over the years. And he tells me that he wouldn't stand a chance in competitions because the winners almost always have degrees in art, engineering or both.

    And Thom is absolutely right about UGC and its effect on brand equity, although the Monty Python animation is funny enough that I give it a pass on authenticity.

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