Marketing Method: The Lego Movie

Believe it or not, Legos have actually existed since 1949. As early as the 1960s, there were Lego sets: knights, pirates, vikings, dinosaurs – that sort of thing. In the 1990s: Lego opened up the licensing game and since then we’ve had Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Harry Potter and even Avatar: the Last Airbender in Lego form. There have been fifty Lego video games, again from originals like Lego Island (which every 90’s kid owned) to licensed products like Lego Pirates of the Caribbean. Fifty games… and that’s not counting the Lego board games that also exist. There have also been Lego TV movies, Lego books, Lego clothing… Legoland. In short: since 1949 Lego has done everything possible with their product except a theatrical motion picture… until now.

2014 sees the release of the LEGO Movie. As stated before: this is the company’s first foray into theatrical pictures. Very likely it will not be the last. Before I go any further I want to stress that I still have not seen the LEGO Movie. I will in fact be seeing it later today but that is besides the point. This is not a review of the film but rather a critique in how they advertised it. For starters, the teaser trailer below:

Notice anything right away? Lego is pretty proud of the licensed characters they have. That and the movie looks… okay? It’s hard to tell, only a teaser after all. Let’s look at the trailer:

Wow they really want the audience to know that Batman is in this. He is the first character we are introduced to in the trailer. This raises warning signs. Primarily: licensing is more important than plot. In all honesty, this trailer did little to entice me into viewing the LEGO Movie as anything more than a quick cash-in aimed at the kids. Sure I (like most people alive) grew up with Lego, but I don’t see any of the Legos I grew up with in the trailer.

Seriously, where are these guys?
Seriously, where are these guys?

Instead I was easily able to guess which DC superhero had been the most profitable in the last ten years. Every scene in the trailer that focused on the “movie” part of the LEGO Movie also came off as either a quick joke (in most cases not a very funny one) or a very generic piece of the family movie experience pie: i.e. the love interest, the “believe-in-yourself” inspiration. The trailer ended with the expected voice cast celebrity highlights as well.

Remember when this guy played God and people thought it was funny? The LEGO Movie remembers...
Remember when this guy played God and people thought it was funny? The LEGO Movie remembers…

Needless to say: I personally was not expecting much from the LEGO Movie. Consider this a pleasant surprise. Not only is the LEGO Movie supposed to be good: it’s supposed to be very good. Ty Burr, of the Boston Globe, echoed my surprise: “My fingers rebel, but type it I must: “The LEGO Movie” is the first great cinematic experience of 2014“. That’s pretty high praise and again: he’s not the only one saying it. This appears to be a rare occurrence where the previews do not do the final product justice.

Lego should be mighty pleased with the film they put out… but they may want to have a word with their advertising team. Kids: yes, the trailers appealed to kids – but they were going to see it anyway. It should not be a surprise (albeit a welcome one) that this film can appeal to Lego fans of any age. After all: who at this point, did not grow up with Lego?

On a side note: who was the Lego Super Star Destroyer made for? No one who could actually assemble it could likely be publicly proud that they did so.
On a side note: who was the Lego Super Star Destroyer made for? No one who could actually assemble it could likely be publicly proud that they did so.

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