Adapting to the COVID Landscape with LEGO

June 30, 2020

By Barbie Romero, senior manager of committees and conferences, ANA


This year’s ANA Digital and Social Media Conference is going virtual to offer our attendees all of the benefits of this dynamic conference from the safety and comfort of their own homes. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every corner of our industry, but our agenda is packed with marketing thought leaders who will offer their insights and expertise on how brands can not only weather the storm, but come out stronger on the other side. James Gregson, director and head of social studio for the Americas at LEGO, spoke with the ANA about the pandemic and LEGO’s response.


How has COVID-19 affected consumption patterns for your target audience? When parents were under lockdown did you see any increase in interest from parents wanting to play LEGO with their kids?

I think it is fair to say that COVID’s impact has been as wide reaching as anything this planet has ever seen. Its implications have certainly been felt across our global audiences. As stay-at-home orders rolled out across the globe, people’s daily routines were completely turned upside down. Parents, kids, adults — everyone was impacted. Gone were the simple pleasures of consuming a podcast on your commute to work. We certainly saw social media consumption rates increase significantly. And we stayed very close to our platform partners to understand the impact it was having directly on those platforms to help inform how, as a brand, we could react.

As an example, on Pinterest, we learned that searches for self-isolation related activities increased by over 100,000 percent week over week, similarly they saw a massive increase in kids schedule related searches and stress relief related searches. As a result we felt a responsibility to really lean in and support our audiences who were clearly looking for support — launching a Pinterest campaign, creating activity-related content to support those stuck at home, looking for things to do.

From a broader industry perspective, we saw tangible increases across the toy industry, and we were very happy to see a sizable increase in our sales across audience segments over Q1 AND Q2.


Has having an internal creative agency helped your organization become agile? How does your team react quickly to changing consumer trends in pop culture?

Well, my opinion is certainly a biased one, as I am part our internal agency’s leadership team! But to answer your question: yes. We are uniquely positioned to be extremely agile as an internal team supporting many areas of the business. At a basic level, my marketing partners are only down the hall and the flow of communication is far more efficient than working with an external agency.

As far as staying close to consumer and pop culture trends, last year we rolled out a social media newsroom-style setup where teams across the globe are listening and reviewing social media conversations every day. If an opportunity arises we are able to react — concept, produce and publish — in hours.


Does your team use user generated content to drive engagement on your social channels?

UGC is a big component of our social media content strategy, especially across Instagram. We feel it’s our responsibility to actively celebrate our amazing fans across the world.



How does senior leadership support innovation at LEGO? Do you have any tips for other marketers who want to establish an innovation driven culture at their organization?

It’s certainly a big buzzword across… everything?! But, to put more of a micro lens on our creative approach, we certainly proactively look to innovate and iterate our creative processes to ensure we are pushing the boundaries. Our teams are encouraged to be brave and curious, testing new formats and new platforms and then taking those learnings and applying them to future outputs. It’s really a critical component to the culture of our team.

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