Lego taps 360 for branding initiative targeting parents

ENFIELD, CT: Facing greater competition for children's time in the digital age, Lego Systems has tapped 360 PR to manage brand PR. Lego Systems is the Denmark company's US division.

ENFIELD, CT: Facing greater competition for children's time in the digital age, Lego Systems has tapped 360 PR to manage brand PR. Lego Systems is the Denmark company's US division.

The assignment is for one year, although the relationship could go beyond that, said Michael McNally, senior brand relations manager. He said the budget was around $750,000, adding that Lego had not previously worked with an agency on brand PR. Ruder Finn continues to handle product PR.

"We want to start a brand-building campaign that will leverage Lego's heritage and underscore the importance of creative and constructive play," said McNally. "They will help us create a program that will help us speak to parents and families."

Lego typically focuses on children ages 6 to 12, and the PR opportunities to reach that easily distracted demographic are "slim to none." So PR has to target families with children in that age group with messaging that speaks to creativity and other attributes appealing to parents, said McNally.

But the toy industry is not what it once was. Video games, the internet, DVDs, MP3 players, and other digital gadgets are among the most popular items for kids. And for a brand such as Lego, heritage might be a tough sell.

"The time kids have for down-time is limited. I think there is a real opportunity for classic toys," said McNally, adding that he hopes parents will see Lego as a respite from children sitting in front of a computer.

In recent years, Lego has focused on promoting specific product lines rather than the overall brand. But the company has moved past some financial troubles, including its first financial loss in the late 1990s. The company recently sold its Legoland amusement parks.

Lego selected 360 for its deep experience in marketing to children and parents, said McNally.

"Lots of toy brands try to endear themselves to parents. But Lego is already there," said Laura Tomasetti, 360 managing partner.

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