CAMPAIGNS: Traditional toy goes hi-tech - Youth Marketing

In January 1998, The Lego Group announced the arrival of Lego Mindstorms.

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

direct PR.

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

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in