The Lego Group, the 66-year-old maker of construction toys, is striving to build its brand edifice to the point that Lego becomes the ‘most powerful brand among families with children by the year 2005,’ according to company officials.
The most recent step in that direction was marked by the signing of an exclusive agreement with Lucas Licensing for the Lego Group to market Star Wars construction toys worldwide. The multiyear licensing deal, a first for the company, gives Lego the right to produce and sell construction toys based on the three new Star Wars movies, as well as the original Star Wars trilogy.
Describing the license as an ‘extremely key initiative’ within Lego’s overall brand strategy, Rob Ellis, vice president of brand marketing at Lego Systems, says, ‘We think there’s going to be tremendous upside potential for our business. Star Wars and Lego seem to be a natural fit. . . . They’re both incredibly strong brands.
‘We’re taking this as a real opportunity to move beyond our core brick business and move into the whole universe of the child,’ says Ellis. ‘To do that, we recognize that we have to offer the consumer more than our traditional building products for zero to 16 years of age.’
Another important element of that strategy, says Ellis, is building Lego’s share of ‘screen time’ with families with children. To do that, Lego is expanding its scope into a wide range of non-traditional areas, including television production (an animated television series is in pre-production in the U.S. and has already been shopped around to international broadcasters and distributors), book and magazine publishing and video game and educational software development. There may even be a feature film thrown into the mix.
Other initiatives include the impending opening in the spring of 1999 of the first Legoland theme park in the U.S. and the development of alternative product distribution channels such as pharmacies and grocery stores.
‘We want to be with the consumer wherever they might be,’ says Ellis. ‘We want to have our products available in the most entertaining of manners everywhere that the consumer will be.’
Several of the new initiatives are being generated by Lego Media, a two-year-old operating unit based in the U.K. According to Mark Livingstone, worldwide managing director of Lego Media, the company’s media foray makes a great deal of sense from a strategic point of view. ‘This is a very logical, controlled and planned evolution, expansion and extension of the brand,’ he says. ‘It’s not being done at the risk of the play materials business.’