Brick by brick..... https://t.co/nEJMII9W66— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) November 12, 2016
This sparked the interest of the media, wider public and campaigners alike, as we witnessed the power of one consumer’s letter to change a brands’ promotional strategy.
The viral letter, written to Lego via customer Bob Jones’s Facebook page, explained that he could no longer support a brand that was funding a newspaper with headlines which: ‘create distrust of foreigners, blame immigrants for everything, and... is now having a go at top judges in the U.K. for being gay’.
Not to miss the opportunity, campaigning group Stop Funding Hate, which calls on large companies to drop advertising in newspapers that have been accused of promoting discrimination and negativity, maximised on this open letter and put further pressure on Lego by publicising the post on their Twitter handle.
Not long after, Lego announced it would finish its agreement with the Daily Mail and end all promotions with the paper.
Only a few hours after Lego announced that they would be severing their relationship with Daily Mail, Gary Lineker added an additional layer to the debate by tweeting his support of the brand's decision, with the Walker’s spokesman announcing that he had spoken to the crisps company about withdrawing their advertising from The Sun.
It is a brave move of big brands to pull their advertising with some of the most widely read newspapers in the UK, so should public opinion have the power to alter a brand’s marketing and promotional strategy?
I would argue that yes, it does.
If a brand’s choice of promotional partner doesn’t fit with their values and ethos, then consumers are only left confused and disengaged with the brand.
Lego’s client base, as we saw from the Facebook post, clearly identifies with their widely promoted values of inclusivity the brand has, and in many instances, it is these values that incentivise customers to buy from Lego.
Lego’s progressive move to end the partnership not only reaffirms these shared views, but also shows them in an extremely positive light; as a brand that truly listens to the consumer and has taken action when its customers raise a concern.
Social media means that one customer’s opinion now has the power to reach and influence thousands of others’ buying decisions – a far cry from the days when the only option to express disappointment was through a posted letter of complaint.
When influential people and celebrities then engage with these beliefs, questions around reputational issues come even further into disrepute and can create a snowball effect of online conversation.
Brands should always listen to their customers and remember that their opinions and views will change and evolve over time. What might have been acceptable to them last year may not be now.
Keeping customers loyal is the ultimate challenge for every brand.
This move from Lego goes some way to repaying this loyalty for many of its customers and reassuring them that they will always listen and stay true to their core beliefs, a wise move in uncertain times.
Shelley Frosdick is director of consumer & lifestyle PR at PHA Media