LEGO Revisits Tour Roots with Mobile Road Show
One of the pioneers of mobile marketing returned to the discipline it helped define with an all-new mobile tour it rolled out in 2009 and was set to hit 24 markets by the end of October that year. Thanks to its success, the brand extended the tour for six more weeks after that to hit six additional markets.
The LEGO Experience Tour kicked off at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo and then split into two concurrent East and West Coast-bound tours, each scheduled to hit a variety of local fairs, festivals and air shows. The tour was housed in 24-foot box-trucks that were nimble enough to maneuver smaller venues yet large enough to make a statement. Each vehicle featured more than 100 close-up headshots of popular LEGO characters adorning each side. For fun, LEGO-based creations like ladybugs and giant flies were attached to the rearview mirrors and grills of the vehicles. The brand’s goal was that the playful trucks and on-site activations would inspire longtime fans to rediscover LEGO and introduce the brand to their children as well.
The tour’s successful turnout resulted in an extension of it until the holiday season. “The caveat is that the later you get in the year, the harder it is to draw families,” says Vince Rubino, Event Marketing Manager at LEGO. “Still, the quality of the interactions we saw in reference to our objectives made it worthwhile.”
The footprint at each stop was not large, but the tents were packed with interactives. The LEGO Construction Zone was a free form, open-ended building station, with play tables and bins filled with hundreds of LEGO bricks in the center. A highlight was the central tent, which featured one massive build table set against a cityscape background. Visitors were invited to populate the city with buildings and people that represented the stop’s location. LEGO showcased the creations on the tour’s blog at thelegoexperiencetour.blogspot.com. After, competitive families had a chance to work together in the Family Challenge area, where an emcee announced a theme like “your favorite building” or “something that begins with the letter ‘q’” and the family had two minutes to meet the challenge by working together with LEGO bricks. Before leaving the exhibit, the Beyond Bricks area showcased the brand’s other offerings, like Bionicle, video games and mini-movies and offered memberships into the LEGO club and subscriptions to LEGO magazine. The activation continued online at thelegoexperiencetour.blogspot.com and via a dedicated photo stream on Flickr.
Because LEGO’s products are targeted at children, data capture is a challenging area, Rubino says. The company is sensitive to the privacy of its little fans so the brand relies mainly on anonymous attendee surveys (about 250,000 at that time) and the LEGO club signups (about 10,000 from the tour) for feedback and metrics, which Rubino says indicated that 50 to 60 percent of the attendees were, in fact, old friends who were taking advantage of the tour to get to know LEGO again, the tour’s primary objective.
The toy giant was one of the first brands to get ultra-aggressive about mobile marketing in the late 1990s, using several tours a year to launch products, connect with kids and families and go beyond traditional media into the face-to-face realm. Known for its multi-day, intensive staff training regimens, the company also helped define early on many of the brand ambassador training techniques used today.
Rubino says the tour, in addition to reacquainting consumers with the brand, encouraged them to think “beyond the brick.”
“Everybody knows about LEGO, but consumers are often surprised about the breadth of our offerings,” he says. “What we know is, once they get the bricks in their hands, they get it. The strategy is working and we’re meeting our objectives, both in the breadth of brand experiences and in meeting people who thought they knew the LEGO brand and reintroducing them to us.”