What Happened to Lego?

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Lego has undergone quite a change. Legos used to be simple he says in the video. Now Lego is anything but simple. Instead Lego has chosen to focus on cross-branded sets, like Harry Potter and Star Wars. The kits that used to allow for – and encourage – creativity, imagination, and experimentation now build one thing only. What’s on the box.

Unfortunately no one seems to have told Lego’s marketing department about the dramatic shift in the product design. Ads that are passed around the internet lately contrast strongly with the actual product. It’s hard to find a better example of disingenuous advertising.

As someone who grew up adoring Lego, this change really saddens me. As a parent whose child is nearing Lego age, I’m nervous about buying Lego for her.


A 1981 ad that captures the Lego spirit.

A recent sampling from the Imagine campaign.

Some more recent examples of Lego selling imagination. (Simpsons, South Park, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

Examples of the current product. How does the product compare to the ads?

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Yellow Pages Struggle to Maintain Relevancy

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I received this email from a client, who got it from her latest Yellow Pages account person (she gets a new one each year, I guess her territory isn’t very valuable). We both had a bit of a chuckle about YPG’s latest attempt to stay relevant. On one hand at least they’re trying something, but you can’t help but wonder when they’re going to address the elephant in the room: their core business is dying. This effort does nothing to address that, and is ultimately pretty hollow. The Yellow Pages have been replaced by Google, game over.

I’ve written before about the death of the Yellow Pages. Hating on the Yellow Pages is nothing new, rather it’s become pretty fashionable to do. While part of me feels sad for the people who’s livelihood depends on this business – it must be pretty hard to watch it die such a slow death – I think its end is long overdue.

I wonder, do people who work for the Yellow Pages use their own product, or do they just Google everything like the rest of us?

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Harley Spirit

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Harley Davidson has been doing a great job with its brand communications for a long time now, and this ad is just one more example of how it’s done, properly. One of the great things about their communications is how exclusive the brand is. One of the best ways to create a passionate following is to define your brand, and exclude people from it. With clearly defined borders, your audience is either in, or its out.

The central tenet of this ad is that you are either a born Harley owner, or you aren’t. It’s an exclusive brand, as opposed to the come-one come-all inclusive brands.

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Hunting Season Begins

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This ad appears to be for a shopping centre in Italy, but the concept is still great. Retailers run their end of season sales at the same time, with smaller retailers looking out their shop’s doors to see when the bigger shops start their clearances.

I’m wondering how well the headline translates from Italian into English – it seems like a competent copywriter could tighten it up a bit.

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An Unfortunate Transit Ad

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I’m 95% sure this is fake – the ad size seems too narrow, the ad seems conveniently generic, and poster mounts appear to be missing – but the 11 year old in me desperately wants to see this in real life.

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Monster Cheaper than Cocaine

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One day I think I’ll run off and get a job for a small chain of gas stations. I keep seeing these POP ads online from on top of the gas pump, advertising assorted specials in store. Like this one, they are put together quickly and have a terrific sense of humour.

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Four Great Ads from Spike Jonze

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He’s best known for his work on such films as “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation,” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” But Spike Jonze has also created some of the most engaging TV commercials. Notice that the ads are all at least 60 seconds long, he takes time to tell a story, instead of just hitting you with the feature-benefit-advantage combo.

IKEA – Lamp

Nike – Y2K

Gap – Pardon Our Dust

Levi’s – Doctors

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More Assorted Cleverness

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I’m a fan of pretty much anything that acknowledges its media/surroundings and embraces it as a part of the design. Here are four examples of that.

Relevant ad for Ford trucks.

Careerbuilder offers some support to office workers struggling with their work.

Denver Water leads by example.

Clever bag design for YKM department stores (hopefully for their fitness section).

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Byturen Beer Goggles

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I spent a good portion of my 20’s as a bouncer/doorman at various bars. I’ve seen a lot, and I really like how this video shows the difference between how we think things are happening, and the reality. It takes a while to load, but it’s worth the wait.

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Assorted Cleverness

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Floods in Bartlesville, Oklahoma complete this billboard.


I really appreciate the kind of thought that goes into creating an experience like this. A great use of surprise and delight.


This is K-Mart’s error page for gamers. If you don’t “get” this instruction, don’t worry. You just have to know that it fits perfectly with their audience. Inside jokes like this work really well to create a sense of community.



Click to view full-size.

The ad on the left was placed in Cosmo, and the ad on the right was placed in assorted men’s magazines (eg: Maxim). The men’s explains that the women’s ad is creating a subliminally positive image of men that drink Molson Canadian. If they only ran the men’s ad, would it have made any difference?

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