Lego hotel builds hype for Grand Budapest movie release

A Lego model of the hotel in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel helped drive broad consumer engagement and outstanding sales of the film on Blu-ray and DVD.

Revolori and Ziegelbauer posed for fan photos with the Lego hotel.
Revolori and Ziegelbauer posed for fan photos with the Lego hotel.

Client: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (Los Angeles)
Agency: Hill+Knowlton Strategies (Los Angeles) and Allied Integrated Marketing (Los Angeles)
Campaign: The Grand Budapest Hotel gets Lego Treatment for Blu-ray Release
Duration: March 4-August 31
Budget: $180,000         

A Lego model of the hotel in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel helped drive broad consumer engagement and outstanding sales of the film on Blu-ray and DVD, released on June 17, and in digital HD, released on June 3.

"Lego is massively popular, and The Lego Movie Blu-ray was being released the same day as The Grand Budapest Hotel," says Mary Daily, president and CMO of worldwide marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. "We struck on the idea of what a great release date stunt it would be to build a beautiful scale model of the hotel out of Lego blocks."

"It allowed us to bring the hotel to people’s attention in a unique way that is in the DNA of the movie and pop culture," she explains.

AOR for PR Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Allied Integrated Marketing, which works on a project basis for experiential marketing campaigns, helped devise and execute the campaign.

Alex Armour, senior account supervisor at H+K, notes that Lego’s popularity – the brand reported $4.6 billion in sales for 2013 – would help extend reach beyond Anderson’s niche audience to Lego fans worldwide.

The model was unveiled on June 14 at The Grove, a retail and entertainment complex in Los Angeles that draws a lot of local and tourist traffic. It was moved to Fox Studio’s lot on June 17 so employees could enjoy it before it went on display at the Architecture and Design Museum.

"We wanted to continue to use the model after the unveil," Armour explains. "The museum was hosting a grand re-opening in late June featuring an exhibit about scale models, so it was a perfect fit."

Designer and builder Ryan Ziegelbauer and his team of eight were commissioned to construct the model. The team created a time-lapse video of the model construction.

H+K arranged for Tony Revolori, who played Zero the lobby boy in The Grand Budapest Hotel, to appear in the video.

An image of one pink Lego brick in front of the mountain backdrop from the movie with the message "Coming Soon" was posted to Fox Home Entertainment’s Facebook and Twitter pages on June 11.

Top-tier journalists covering home entertainment, travel, arts and culture, and business were sent a teaser graphic on June 12. The time-lapse video was released to journalists and posted on YouTube channels on June 13. Ziegelbauer and Revolori posed for fan photos and gave media interviews at The Grove unveiling.

Ziegelbauer participated in a Q&A at the museum’s opening party. The time-lapse video was projected onto a neighboring building and ran on a loop throughout the evening. The model was displayed at the venue through September 14.

Photos of people posing with the model were posted with  #GrandBrickHotel to the Facebook pages of both Fox Searchlight and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Daily says The Grand Budapest Hotel is Fox Searchlight’s best-selling comedy Blu-ray of 2014 and Anderson’s top-selling digital title. During the week ending June 22, the movie took 51.89% market share (number three on Nielsen’s Top 20 share ranking list), beating The Lego Movie’s 48.83% share.

More than 200 stories were placed within 48 hours of the unveiling. Earned placements climbed to 634 as of early September. Outlets covering the story included Variety, USA Today,, Reuters, Newsday, and People. The video received more than 150,000 views within 24 hours of its release. By early September, it had about 420,000 views. 

#GrandBrickHotel topped Facebook’s list of trending topics on June 13 and fans of the director circulated a petition for Anderson-themed Lego sets.

Plans include a 40th anniversary celebration of Young Frankenstein this fall and a big 2015 campaign for The Sound of Music’s 50th anniversary.

PRWeek's View: This was an inspired concept, beautifully aligned with the film and expertly executed. The model is engaging on many levels – it is fun, fascinating, and the use of Lego undoubtedly drove expanded reach. The time-lapse video was a great idea leveraging fan fascination with the model.

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