Yesterday, LEGO announced that it had no further plans for promotional giveaways with UK newspaper the Daily Mail. While LEGO itself did not offer a reason for this decision, there has been an ongoing protest against the Danish toy manufacturer’s association with the Daily Mail, led by social media campaigners @StopFundingHate.
The Stop Funding Hate campaign states that its aim is to tackle the culture of hate, demonisation and division surrounding the Brexit referendum, and more specifically to “take on the divisive hate campaigns of the Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express by persuading advertisers to pull their support”. LEGO responded to the campaigners by tweeting that “We have finished the agreement with The Daily Mail and are not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper”.
Stop Funding Hate drew attention to a letter written by Mr Bob Jones, a father from London, who voiced his concern at vitriolic headlines and articles published by the Daily Mail. He specifically mentioned those surrounding the Brexit referendum, migrants, and personal attacks on High Court judges who heard the case challenging Theresa May’s right to trigger the Article 50 process without the backing of Parliament.
This is not the first time that negative publicity seems to have led to a commercial decision by LEGO. Back in 2014, Greenpeace called for LEGO to end its co-promotion with Shell because they believed Shell was leading the race to exploit the Arctic’s oil reserves under the rapidly melting sea ice. The campaign centred around a video depicting a brick-built Artic slowly vanishing under a rising tide of black oil. LEGO ceased its promotional collaboration with Shell as a direct result of that campaign.
Then of course there is also the story of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, LEGO, and a lot of miscommunication which I personally like to summarise using this particular scene.