Here We Are Again, LEGO. Why?

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Image: Lego
Image: LEGO

Dear LEGO,

Here we are again. You know, I was just getting to the point where I was over the whole Friends debacle. You had the lady scientists collection that mollified me a bit. You were including Black Widow and Rey and Scarlet Witch in your licensed sets. Hey, I was even at the point where I had started to vaguely forget that you had Cap riding Widow’s motorcycle in the Age of Ultron set, ignoring that amazing scene for one of the only female action heroes we all have. I mean, my son is the kid who has to build the sets exactly as they are on the box and hasn’t seen the movie so he just assumed Cap was The Man doing The Cool Stuff.

Image: Lego
Image: LEGO

I’ve even gotten to the point where I can accept from a marketing perspective that branching out into “doll” types of figures might not be bad. Despite the fact that I wish you wouldn’t assume a gender to all of those Friends sets, I can admit that some are pretty darn amazeballs.

See, but then today. #LEGODad: a community for dads. I love dads. I have one, and I helped make my husband one. If I didn’t like dads, I’d be in a pretty sad place. In fact, I don’t actually hate the idea of a community for dads. I think it’s awesome. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t write for the GeekDad/GeekMom website. Dads are awesome. The part of this campaign that I love is that for once an ad treats dads respectfully. Instead of the hands-off doofus caricature we normally get, you’re promoting a way for dads who do stuff with their kids to show it off and connect with one another. Mad props to you for that.

I totally think that as a lead-up to Father’s Day, this is a wonderful tribute to dads who hang out with their kids.

BUT (yup, here comes the negative that comes after the “but”).

I never saw a #LEGOMom hashtag at Mother’s Day.

I never saw a LEGOMom community for moms who do LEGO with their kids.

Why not? Why weren’t there LEGO promotions for Mother’s Day? I like LEGO. I’ve gotten several sets as gifts from my husband. I built the entire Doctor Who TARDIS set myself. I built the General Leia ship myself. I used the Leia/Han minifigures from the Force Awakens sets as the contact photo for my husband.

I’m glad that we’ve accepted that little girls like to build with LEGO blocks. It’s a step in the right direction. Actually, it’s probably about fifteen steps in the right direction. Props to you for that.

BUT (yup, again).

All the moms were once those same little girls. You know that ad from the ’80s that keeps circulating? The one with the little girl in pigtails and overalls who loves LEGO? Guess who that is.

It’s the moms. It’s the moms who all grew up from little girls and taught their children, regardless of gender, to love LEGO.

Why are we here again, LEGO?

I love your product, but I really can’t handle your marketing. You’re teaching my son implicitly what he should do with his dad compared to his mom. You’re teaching little girls that it’s ok to play with the LEGO now but when they’ve got kids, it’s dad playing with them who matters.

Honestly, if we hadn’t already had this conversation about LEGO Friends, then about girls in various sets, then about the women in science set, then about the colors for girls, then… And then… And…

Here we go again.

LEGO, it’s not the #LEGODad hashtag that bugs me. It really isn’t. It’s the fact that, no matter how many times my female friends and I ask you to include us, you still seem to forget that we actually enjoy using your product. It’s about you acknowledging us as part of your core demographic.

Because we are.

But (yup, one last time.)

Maybe you need to think about how long we will be.



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21 thoughts on “Here We Are Again, LEGO. Why?

  1. Eye roll. Get over it.
    The LEGO website reserves space for you (as the parent) to easily send send photos of you with your kids building and playing with LEGO. That would put it front and centre wouldn’t it? Instead of the article coming across as an innocent critique and food for thought, it comes across as passive aggressive and a nagging mom looking to rise up against male LEGO oppression. I love moms, I have one (to use an assist from your article), and she raised my brother and I by herself (we’re twins) jam packed with LEGO fun. She played with LEGO as a young girl and cares very little whether or not she’s represented in a hastag. She represented herself as a fan of LEGO to her father, her male friends, and her sons, you know-the men to her who really mattered.Let’s face it, Moms are wonderful but it’s time to drop the entitlement. Moms and Dads, Moms and Moms, Dads and Dads, Mom or Dad: we’re all in it together. We shape our little people, if a girl (I have a delightful one of those) is playing with LEGO, it’s girl LEGO. Drop it or fight better without sounding like a nag.

    1. Whether or not Karen submits photos to LEGO, it won’t change the fact that LEGO marketing built an entire campaign to feature dads playing LEGO with their kids and didn’t do the same for moms. It’s an unnecessary gender bias and one that’s pretty myopic, given their previous issues with stereotyping.

      Like you say “Mom or Dad: we’re all in it together.” So why highlight one parent and not the other?

      Maybe Karen isn’t the one that has something she needs to get over here, Trev.

      1. Agreed. My point was only that, if change is needed be that change. How is not going directly to the source the best amd most fuirtful plan?

        1. Not saying that it’s not an effective method of making your voice heard. But this isn’t the first time LEGO has done something like this despite considerable social pressure. Either they need to hear the message again or we need to say it louder.

          Also, telling Karen to “get over it” in your first sentence kind of puts everyone on the attack in response to your comment. You can offer a contrasting opinion without being belittling.

    2. Trev, your mansplaining cisgendered microaggressions are violating my safe space.

  2. Wow, Trev. Way to be a jerk! It’s not the author that has issues.

    Karen’s article was well thought out and well written, but then he you come with your eye roll and “get over it”.

    Your word choices speak for themselves:
    -“passive aggressive and a nagging mom”
    -“male LEGO oppression”
    -“represented herself as a fan of LEGO to the men to her who really mattered”
    -“time to drop the entitlement”
    -“if a girl is playing with LEGO, it’s girl LEGO”

    Get a grip.

  3. If it really did “just start”, it’s probably because Fathers Day is in 6 days. It could be they are idiots… or they are timing their marketing based on a holiday calendar, a tried and true tactic.

  4. Or there is another way to look at it. We GeekDad’s (and GeekMom’s too) tend to be very active in our children’s lives, especially when our area’s of geeky expertise align with our children’s interest. Not every parent is, perhaps LEGO is attempting to encourage specifically Dad’s to be more involved thus combating the stereotype that you specifically highlight LEGO is not supporting.
    “The part of this campaign that I love is that for once an ad treats dads respectfully. Instead of the hands-off doofus caricature we normally get, you’re promoting a way for dads who do stuff with their kids to show it off and connect with one another. Mad props to you for that.”

    Yes there are fantastic LEGO Moms, and Grandmas out there (There are some in my LEGO Users Group (LUG) an Adult Fan of LEGO (AFoL) club) and I understand that there being no #LEGOMom can feel like a slight. I agree that #LEGOFamily or #LEGOParents may have been better, but any encouragement for parents to be more connected is a good thing, as is promoting good forms of Fatherhood.

  5. I’m kind of with Trev on this one. Just because a company does something for Dads doesn’t mean they are anti-mom. Can’t we just let it be nice that finally Dads aren’t treated like morons? Maybe instead of bagging on them for promoting Dads being involved with their kids, just let it be for a minute and let the marketing department think “what a good job we did, it was well received. you know what? maybe we should do this again for mother’s day next year and highlight how our toys are great for everybody.” But instead you gotta start nagging about how LEGO let you down. I would get the message that we better just do generic ads, because if they don’t mention everybody specifically, obviously they are racist or sexist or whatever-ist.

  6. This is one of the whiniest things I’ve ever read. Is this or If they do make the hash tag, are you going to complain that it only gets .75 tweets for every 1 tweet the dad one gets?

    Lego has traditionally been a toy preferred by boys, and even now, boys make up the majority of their market. They’ve tried to market to girls in the past, but until the introduction of Friends, all of their girl centric lines failed.

    Now the boys that played with the”glory day” Lego sets in the 80s and 90s have kids, so of course Lego is going to market to them.

    Yes, there were some girls who played with Legos then and are now mothers (I have a sister who falls into this category), but it’s such a small number that it’s just not worth the trouble.

    Or, at least, it isn’t until that small number starts whining that they aren’t getting equal representation in the marketing of what is traditionally toys for boys.

    Seriously, get over it. Not everything in life is equal, especially not on the internet. Be happy that the dads are getting recognition for not being idiots, like you said, and leave it at that.

    1. Never. Ever. Say that a group is “not worth the trouble.” So what if there aren’t as many of them as you? So what if they don’t move as much product?

      Are they they the majority of the market? Maybe not. But is that because of lack of interest by consumers or lack of trying from LEGO? Friends has done very well with girls (my daughter is a huge fan of the sets) because they generally don’t hew to traditional girly-girl themes (and maybe that’s why the other “girl” lines failed).

      Nowhere in the article does Karen say LEGO should stop advertising to Dads. She’s simply pointing out that they’re ignoring Moms. They even have a girl-focused line they could use to base the campaign on. I’d love to see that!

      Marketing is a message. And when they seemingly go out of their way to exclude an important group, a group that could be equally receptive to it, it raises questions. Not everyone has the privilege of being catered to. Instead of pointing out inequity, shrugging, and saying “too bad, sweetheart,” maybe you should consider that.

      1. Marketing to one group,incidentally the majority, of their customers is not the same as “going out of their way to exclude” anyone. Too bad sweetheart. All the “excluded” groups can still buy LEGO. This is just one facet of their marketing to encourage dads to play with their kids, coincidentally it’s close to Father’s Day. Wow! You think that might be related?

        1. In 1954, Lego had among its six principles of play “For girls, for boys, fun for every age.” as the fourth principle of play. Note, at this point, girls/women were not only included, but included before boys. It showed strong growth by this targeting, including creating train sets and playhouses in the 1970s. Following this strategy, Lego saw five-fold growth between 1978 to 1988. In 1988, Lego’s patents ran out, and they faced competition from cheaper manufacturers for the first time (they produce all their product in Finland). In the 1990s, they started having sales issues. As Lego went into its first marketing deal with a movie studio, making Star Wars kits, Lego’s profits were in free-fall, largely because they were making too many variants of their product. It was mostly to align with the licensing requirements of partners that Lego became a “boy-focused toy”. Until then, they were pretty gender neutral. Yes, Scala flopped in the early 80s, but it didn’t actually fit into the lego world, so that is not surprising. In 2010, a thirteen-year-old girl took the first ever Lego League robotics competition (Tesca Fitzgerald). In 2012, Lego Friend’s came out, which did double what they predicted it would in the first year. The sad thing isn’t that they made Lego Friends, it is that they allowed themselves to lose their way in the 90s, and exclude girls as they went after media licenses, which required them to double back around and make something like Lego Friends. Source: The book Brick by Brick by David Robertson and Bill Breen. Sorry, but for the vast majority of Lego’s history, Lego was a “kids” toy, not a “boys” toy. So the exclusion is purposeful and hurtful. Additionally, this is a trend, not a single event.

  7. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this.

    I understand your point, but at the same time I consider how that, as I’m going to be taking 5 months off with a newborn soon, I see a lot more “Mom & Tot” programs than “Parent & Tot”, so it’s not just Lego that has this kind of bias (not that two wrongs make a right). There is also the chance they didn’t think of the #LegoDad campaign in time to implement a #LegoMom one at Mother’s Day, or perhaps they want to try out #LegoDad before launching #LegoMom.

    On the other hand, however, I have experienced your frustration with unavailability of female characters and conent. My son recently really got into Scooby Doo, purchasing the Mystery Machine set with birthday money simply because he saw a dog and a zombie. I feel it is important he learn females can be heroes just as much as the males, so I went looking for Velma and Daphne mini-figures (the set came with Scooby, Shaggy, and Fred). The only set I could find the girls in was over $100, or individually on E-Bay for over $25 each. I understand Scooby needs to be in most if not all of the sets, but you can’t give any easier access to Velma and Daphne?

  8. GeekDad has more than 2x the followers as GeekMom. This is clearly not fair. Something must be done to make this equal.

    1. Steps have been taken, actually. This is why we merged. We want both voices to be heard, and both sexes to have equal platforms. I write for both GeekMom and GeekDad, and (as a gender-queer parent) I cannot be more thrilled for us to be sharing this space, now.

      1. Hey Rory, I think your comment is a perfect demonstration of the annoyance this article is bringing up. I’m pretty sure Charles’ comment was sarcasm. (If it wasn’t, it was perfect sarcasm anyway!) Everything doesn’t need to be exactly equal to be fair.

  9. this campaign clearly is designed for WOMEN to buy gifts for Father’s day. Men aren’t going to be buying their own father’s day gifts. You can tell that lego was thinking strongly from the female perspective when buying lego for geeky dads who love to play with their kids. nothing wrong with that. I’m a mom. I love lego. I build lego. I adore my husband and my daughter and it warms my heart to see them playing with the many lego sets they already have and this just makes me want go out and find a new set for them for father’s day. Lego did this right in my opinion. I second the eye roll on this one. There are a lot of positives that shouldn’t be over looked. Dad’s deserve to be celebrated. This is why we have father’s day! it shouldn’t have to turn into fathermoms day just because we want every thing equel. if you want a #Legomom hash tag go make one it’s free.

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