Toymaker LEGO got unusually political this week after it announced Wednesday it will scale back marketing budgets and pause social media promotion of its police-themed toys sets in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
LEGO said it will donate $4 million to various “organizations dedicated to supporting black children and educating all children about racial equality.”
The company’s actions come after nearly one straight week of civil unrest across the country, escalated by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. LEGO also said it would scale back on marketing of its White House-themed toys.
“We did not pull product from shelves, we paused marketing from social media,” a LEGO spokesperson told TheWrap. “Our intention was to temporarily pause digital advertising in response to events in the US. Given the tragic events in the US over the past 10 days, we paused digital marketing of sets content that could be perceived insensitive if promoted at this time.”
The LEGO spokesperson continued, “as we’ve been saying since the protests started, we stand with the black community against racism and inequality. Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, and that includes inspiring them to be tolerant, inclusive and kind. As you noted we will donate US $4 million to organizations in the United States dedicated to non-profits that support black children and others that educate all children and families about tolerance and racial equality.”
LEGO did not clarify which organizations or non-profits will receive the funds.
Website ToyBook first reported the news and provided screenshots of various emails to affiliated LEGO marketers asking them to remove the products from websites and listings — over 30 items were listed.
“In light of recent events, LEGO has requested the below products to be removed from sites and any marketing ASAP,” the LEGO email read.
Some LEGO fans and sellers took to Twitter to question the company’s actions. “Hey @LEGO_Group can you elaborate? Is it #BlackOutTuesday ? We all firmly believe #BlackLivesMattter . For decades #LEGO police & fire rescue have been the very best example how to protect and rescue fellow minifigs and kids playing. What kind of message are you making here??,” tweeted LEGO fan blog Brick Loft.
LEGO told TheWrap that it won’t stop production of these toys, contrary to Brick Loft’s assumption. “Generations of children have loved playing with the our LEGO Police and Firefighter sets which can often be found in our ‘LEGO CITY’ line and is a constant in our collection, the LEGO spokesperson said. “These were available last week and will always be available to our fans.”
All sets are still available, LEGO later clarified.
“We would like to clarify that we have not removed any sets from sale.” a company spokesperson told CNBC. “The misunderstanding is the result of an email that was sent on our behalf to members of our affiliate marketing programme. The intent of the email was to ask that they pause promoting and marketing a selection of Lego products on their sites. We paused all marketing across our own social channels earlier this week in response to the tragic events in the U.S.”
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) June 3, 2020
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