In today’s world, it is impossible to avoid product placement and branding. Brands are found everywhere; on the t-shirt your best friend is wearing, the back of your computer, or the magazine that you hold in your hand. Both movies and companies take advantage of a products brand and their ability to expose the audience to it while they watch a movie. Often this is a subtle thing and usually a product is promoted simply by placing it in the lead actor’s hands or on the table at which they eat. The Lego Corporation, however, took product placement and branding to an entirely different level with the creation of The Lego Movie. Rather than having a kid playing with LEGOs in a movie to promote their brand, they decided to create a movie in which their product is literally everywhere. Every scene is created solely from LEGO pieces and each of the characters is a LEGO man or woman. In my opinion, this innovative idea has led to one of the greatest product placements to date and people are essentially paying to watch a 120-minute commercial promoting the LEGO Corporation. Particular scenes throughout the movie add to the logos, pathos, and ethos of the branding of the LEGO Company and are extremely successful in promoting the use of their products.
The movie itself is incredibly successful in lending to the credibility and ethos of Lego. Prior to watching the movie, I viewed Legos only as children’s toys that can be used to create amazing boats or space ships if you follow the directions correctly. Watching the movie changed my view of the Lego brand and I am confident that it has similarly affected both adults and children that have watched the film. According to lego.com, the LEGO brand values are creativity, imagination, fun, learning, caring and quality. After watching the movie, I could have probably guessed most of those based on the different scenes and themes throughout the movie. For example, at a pinnacle moment in the movie where the main Lego man (an ordinary Lego named Emmett) finds himself face to face with the antagonist, Lord Business, Emmett tells him “I see people inspired by each other, by you. People are taking what you made and making something new out of it.” Although they aren’t directly telling people that their product can ignite your imagination and allow you to be creative, they are portraying it through the characters. In the beginning of the movie, Emmett woke up each morning and followed instructions that told him exactly what to do for the rest of the day. By the end of the movie, these instructions were long forgotten as he and other characters began to build amazing things such as spaceships out of ordinary things such as cars and buildings. This transition adds credibility to the brand values of Lego because the have a product that allows kids to think outside the box, to create something besides the obvious, and to have fun while doing it.
Lego products are used in every aspect of the movie. Based on the title of the movie, this is logical because you would expect something called The Lego Movie to be created from toy blocks identical to the ones that you could find in your children’s playroom. The story line of the movie also adds a lot of logic to the movie and the product. One of the most obvious themes in the plot of the movie is that there is a master builder inside everyone; all we have to do is believe. Emmett was just an ordinary Lego man who was able to create and accomplish amazing things because he believed in himself. The brand of Lego is centered on creativity and imagination and so therefore it is very logical for the themes in the movie to promote these. The Lego movie also decided to showcase superheroes’ such as superman and batman in the film. The company has a partnership with these brands and sells the characters in Lego form in stores around the world. In the movie, batman works alongside Emmett, fighting for the safety of the Lego world. Although he isn’t the real life Batman, even in Lego form he is fighting against evil to save the world.
Emotionally, the product appeals to both the adults and children in the theater. The Lego characters and their ability to create amazing things out of the Lego blocks inspire the children. They are in awe of the imagination and skill shown by the master builders as they create boats and submarines out of buildings. Also, they are empowered by the Lego product. For example, one of the master builder characters had a dream to create a spaceship. People kept telling him that it was a dumb idea or not important. However, in the end, he was able to create a spaceship that saved the day and this reminds kids to not give up on their dreams and that it is important to not give up on yourself or be let down because someday you can contribute to the world. For the parents, nostalgia is the prominent emotion evoked. The ending scene shows a father who has micromanaged his son transform into a man who is reminded what it’s like to have an imagination that isn’t boxed in. This encourages the parents to not only purchase the brand so their children can continue to be creative but also appeals emotionally to them because the brand is able to remind them that you are never to old to create something new and amazing.
Overall, I would give the Lego movie and it’s product placement a 5 out of 5. Creating an entire movie to promote your product and the values surrounding it is ingenious and extremely successful. They have created a world made of their product, with character (also made of their product) that is encouraging everyone to continue to be creative and imaginative. This promotion has reached millions around the world, grossing $250 million in the US (LionShare). Their ability to play on the ethos and logos of the product and the pathos of the audience contributed to the amazing success of the branding of Legos.