A Brand Extension from the 50s?
Sometimes it feels like the world is going backwards. Just when we think that women are gaining more influence and power, are getting higher salaries and more opportunities in areas not open to them in the past, there comes a brand that turn back to stereotypical patronising sales methods that is slightly bemusing, if not a bit infuriating.
Lego seems to finally have realised a brand extension proposal conceived in the 1950s where housekeeping and raising a family were considered the ideal roles for females and where products and advertising were geared towards this social attitude.
In December last year, Lego Friends hit the UK as a new range targeting young girls, featuring five Bratz-like ‘mini-dolls’. They have their own characters, hobbies, likes and dislikes, such as arts, invention and pets. Their home is ‘Heartlake City’ and sets represent the outdoors and urban areas.
There is more information about the brand, the new line and its past in this article from Bloomsberg Businessweek.
Just why Lego believes it has to change their long standing, successful range of construction toys and play sets into doll houses and domestic bliss scenes, I can not get my head around – I grew up with lego and never did it bother me that I did not have sauce pans or kitchens to build, but instead police vans, fire engines and helicopters. I spent many hours creating my own models and letting fantasy take flight without pre-conceived story lines aimed at my gender.
Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of Lego, argues that it would “breathe fresh air into a toy category filled mostly with pre-fabricated play experiences for girls”.
I can’t quite see how Lego Friends will be any different to Barbie, Bratz or Disney Princess – and I am curious if mothers will be keen to get their 5 year olds these rather too polished looking play sets with seemingly unchallenging assembly options and little room for creative diversion.
Quite happy I have two boys! Of course I may be completely wrong and this will be a huge hit, but it seems to be an unnecessary gamble with Lego’s current brand positioning and I wonder if they really could not think of any non-gender innovations to gain more market share.
It would be great to hear what you think about this new brand or similar developments in other areas of the toy/games market.