Lego has existed for almost 60 years, in its current form. Sure, new brick pieces have been created as sets become more advanced, or licenses require, but the fundamental building bricks submitted in the original patent, back in 1958, are still the same bricks included in most Lego sets today. The fact Lego has lasted as long as it has is a feat in itself. The fact that the product has largely remained unchanged in that time is testament to its genius, and something that other toys have never come close to.
On Saturday night ITV1 ran a whole ad break created completely in Lego. While the source ads involved were a little underwhelming (British Heart Foundation, Confused.com, BT and Premier Inn), recreating them with some little plastic bricks added another level of charm, that most adults and kids probably enjoyed. The actual purpose of the advert? To promote The Lego Movie.
Now, just licensing alone, and clearance for this 3 minute ad break would've been challenging. Then again, if Lego (and Warner Bros.) came to you, offering to animate your brand using their beloved bricks, you'd probably do whatever you could to make it happen. This was a piece of marketing brilliance in its own right. However, the film itself may be the greatest piece of marketing ever.
Lego spans generations, and most of us within the last 50 years will have played with it. As kids, as parents, as AFOLs (that's Adult Fans of Lego, for the unwise). If you haven't, I only feel sorry for you. For the best part, most people love it, or at least draw nostalgia from it. Parents will take their kids to see the film and be reminded of Lego's glory days, before the licensing of DC and Marvel Comics, Lord of the Rings or SpongeBob Squarepants. Kids will love it because it's bright, funny, brings their toys to life and it's got Batman in it!
What The Lego Movie actually achieves is reminding you that in a generation where kids are being brought up playing with iPads and smart phones, there is still something tangible in Lego, only restricted by a child's imagination - and their parent's, who always end up helping (playing) anyway. The difference is, and what sets Lego apart, is that they seem to care.The movie is brilliant: it's very funny, looks fantastic and has some real heart. Most of all, it doesn't feel like a cash-in. Which is ironic, because almost every kid that sees it, and a lot of the adults, are going to come out of that film and head straight to the Lego store.
The greatest piece of marketing ever? Probably. But when you've got a toy that's outlasted most of those released in the last 5 years, you really don't need to market it.