Lego goes 360


Jason Chuck & Nathan Cahill

Once upon a time in the pre-internet world, advertising was a (relatively) simple concept. Decide on a budget, split it up between newspaper, magazine, a choice of two television channels and radio, and hope that some of it worked. Marketers would try and measure the success by looking at sales figures, customer attitude surveys and brand recall, but the saying ‘I know half of my advertising spend is wasted, I just don’t know which half’ arose for a reason.

The rise of the internet, pay television, mobile computing, sponsorship and social media has dramatically increased the opportunities marketers have to reach consumers, but also creating a more fractured and cloudy environment. In this splintered landscape, the concept of integrated marketing communication (IMC) has evolved to provide clarity, consistency and a seamless message across multiple and diverse communication channels.

Integrated marketing has taken a leap forward with the advent of Web 2.0, evolving into ‘synchronised’ or ‘360-degree marketing’. Unlike the original concept of integrated marketing, where the focus was on consistency of message across mediums, synchronised marketing take this approach further by advocating consistency of brand voice across all product touch points.

This has implications for not only advertising media selection and creative strategy, but far wider reaching consequences right across the marketing mix. From product design to distribution strategies and pricing, 360-degree marketing take companies from producing and selling products to creating experiences.

Lego – building blocks to success

Perhaps nowhere is this philosophy more apparent than in the toy industry. Over the last 10 years, Lego has been leading the way, rising to become the biggest toy manufacturer in the world.

This was achieved on the back of their first flirt with financial ruin in the 1990s. Following their first net loss, the company reinvented itself from a focus on engineering, to a customer focus. According to their vice-president of marketing and consumer experiences, Conny Kalcher, “If you want to be a premium brand you have to keep demonstrating that you are listening.”

360 Degree marketing lesson 1: Laser focus on the customer

In order to focus on the consumer, it is vital to give them an opportunity to engage with the brand across as many touch points as possible. In the world of social media and Web 2.0, this could mean blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, but for brands such as Lego they have been able to take this a step further. Lego has branched into movies, computer games and theme parks to engage further with their client base and spread the message of their product.

360 degree marketing lesson 2: evolve from being a media consumer to a media creator

As well as creating their own content, Lego facilitate their fan base to create and distribute content. Remember when Felix Baumgartner sky dived from the edge of space as a promotion for Red Bull? Not 24 hours later a lego version of the same event appeared on YouTube. The best advertising is the kind you don’t even need to pay to create. As Kalcher explains, “It’s not push marketing – we think differently about social media. The consumers facilitate dialogue and sharing and that’s where you can really accelerate your marketing. It’s about stimulating that relationship with them.”

360 degree marketing lesson 3: encourage and facilitate customer communities

The beauty of this approach is that addresses one of the biggest shortcomings of IMC – an ability to react quickly and adapt to consumer sentiment. By its nature, IMC requires high levels of planning to coordinate messages across media channels, making it very rigid and inflexible. 360 degree marketing, facilitated by social media and real-time feedback from clients, allows the company to evolve its message quickly in response to consumer reaction.

360 degree marketing lesson 4: Respond and evolve the message in response to feedback

As the example of Lego illustrates, synchronised marketing has the opportunity to not only boost sales and strengthen a brand, but build a community of brand advocates who will create content, initiate dialogue and drive sales on your behalf.

  • Have you ever been inspired to advocate a brand to this level?
  • Are there any brands to whom you feel enough connection to create a video in their honour?
  • What content could your company create to engage and open dialogue with your customers?