Joshua Eichler-Summers
Blog of Josh Summers

Venture capitalist & founder. Lots to learn, but happy to help.
Investment Team at DN Capital
Founder of Taaalk

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Lego’s Beautiful 1981 Ad Campaign

16 Feb 2015

Link to full screen ad.

What it is is beautiful.

Have you ever seen anything like it? Not just what she’s made but how proud it’s made her. It’s a look you’ll see whenever children build something all by themselves. No matter what they’ve created.

LEGO Universal Building Sets will help your children discover something very, very special: themselves.

For me this advert works because it appeals to all the right parts of a human being.

It’s bold, cheeky and spot on. ‘What it is is beautiful’ is a wonderful juxtaposition to the girl in her baggy pants, her scrawny laces and her rather insane Lego creation. But it is exactly beautiful. It forces you to appreciate real deep beauty, and not - easy to falsify - surface beauty.

It also associates lego with values that any emotionally intelligent parent will stand for - pride in creation and imagination. Again it points at a truth; it is not about how objectively wonderful a creation is that should define its value, it is the work that goes into it.

Strangely recent studies have proven that praising a child’s effort over the childs acheivements is the correct way to raise a little person that will do well. “I’m so proud of how hard you worked towards your exam” vs “You’re so clever! Look how good your exam results were”; the first phrase raises a child that works hard, the second raises a child that’s scared of trying (in case they disappoint your expectations). Again, a oddly deep thing for a Lego advert to be pointing at.

The last sentence of the advert is sums it all up. Lego helps your child discover the most special thing: themselves. From an advertising point of view, it’s almost a masterful game that’s been played. The advert is not saying “Lego is the most important thing there is - GO BUY LEGO!”. It’s being submissive to the true nature of things. The child, and its personal growth, are the most important things in the equation. Lego is not. It’s just there to help with the process.

The lack of pushing from Lego in this advert causes a thud of quiet confidence to hit you in the face. The kind of thud that would push me out my front door, into my car and down to the local toy store to get my child a box of the stuff.

Well done 1981 Lego.

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