In January 1998, The Lego Group announced the arrival of Lego
These 700-piece robot invention sets contain so-called ’intelligent’
building bricks with microprocessors, that enable the user to create and
programme their own robot. Aimed at 12- to 14-year-olds, the technology
involved has capabilities that hitherto were used only by university
Lego UK asked its retained agency, Manning Selvage and Lee (MS&L) to
create a below the line campaign to launch the product in the UK on 1
To launch Lego Mindstorms to the UK media and recreate the media buzz
that surrounded the world launch in January 1998. In addition, in the
run up to Christmas, Lego was keen to create the sort of hype that would
make the product a ’must-have’ for 12- to 14-year-olds.
The primary issues MS&L needed to tackle were the lack of advertising
support and the difficulties of reaching a youth target audience through
The PR team decided upon a strategy of generating ’big brother’ appeal
through the adult press in order to position the product as ’cool’ with
its younger target audience.
From May to July 1998, Manning Selvage and Lee set about generating
quality pre-launch reviews with a media tour of men’s magazines and the
PC press using a beta-version of the set, that is without all the
In the run up to the October launch, the national press was targeted to
reach parents and their children directly. This was backed by third
party endorsement from the Cybernetics Department at the University of
Reading, which had spent three months exploring the potential and
educational value of the set.
To give the media access to children who had used the toy, the PR team
also placed trial products with ordinary families.
The initial media tour of the men’s and PC press gained extensive
feature coverage including items in T3-Toys For The Boys, PC Format and
Computer and Video Games magazine. Media activity surrounding the launch
was similarly impressive. Both the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph
ran in-depth articles and this extended to the regional press. Broadcast
interest ranged from Virgin Radio and BBC Radio 1 to Channel 4’s Big
Throughout the launch day, BBC News 24 also ran interviews with Kevin
Warwick from Reading University’s Cybernetics Department and Lego UK PR
manager Michael Moore. Following the launch, MS&L spent the Proof target
of ten per cent of itsbudget evaluating the success of the campaign.
Research commissioned from Metrica revealed that 79 per cent of coverage
stated Lego Mindstorms was a ’cool/must have’ product and two out of
three clippings said the product had great educational value.
The PR team successfully overcame the problem of recreating interest in
a product that had already received media coverage at the beginning of
1998. The strategy of targeting media for a more mature audience to
reach its core target audience also worked well. The October issue of
Maxim said ’Lego Mindstorms are the coolest reason we can think of for
having a kid’.
In addition, MS&L spent an impressive amount of its budget on research
and media analysis from NOP, Metrica and CIA. While Lego isunable to
give figures as yet, MS&L say that sales have exceeded launch
expectations and Lego Mindstorms was a top ten Christmas toy at
Client: Lego UK
PR Team: Manning Selvage and Lee
Campaign: UK launch of Lego Mindstorms
Timescale: June to Oct 1998
Budget: pounds 15,000 approx