The Daily Telegraph did not disclose how many Brexit campaigners it tried calling before it found one willing to criticise Danish toy manufacturer Lego for yesterday confirming it would no longer market its products in a fellow right-wing English paper, the Daily Mail, but it got there in the end.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who the DT described as a “leading campaigner for Brexit”, said that “with the free press no company should expect their advertisements to influence a newspaper’s editorial content or line”.
Promoted as champions
At no point has Lego said that it sought to “influence” the Daily Mail’s content or line. It simply stated via Twitter that it had “finished the agreement with the Daily Mail and are not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper”.
However, Lego is being championed as the first company to back Stop Funding Hate, a public campaign launched in the UK in August appealing to advertisers in the Daily Mail to cease their deals on the grounds that it promotes “hatred, discrimination and demonisation”.
Over the following months – particularly if no other major companies back the campaign – Lego can expect more media scrutiny.
#YESLEGO is already trending, as is ‘Brick by brick’, a tweet by sports presenter Gary Lineker, who some media are describing as the nearest thing Britain has to an opposition party right now.
Listening to its customers
As was the case with its decision to end a deal with oil company Shell in 2014 after widespread criticism led by Greenpeace and backed by online petitions, Lego has once again demonstrated its willingness to listen to its customers.
In the case of the DM, it was a British father whose Facebook post on November 4 – in which he appealed to Lego to drop the newspaper, ending it with #stopfundinghate and #noLego – went viral.
“For a few years now you have done free giveaways in the Daily Mail newspaper. And while holding back that wretched feeling, I’ve paid for a copy to get the free Lego pack. (And then promptly binned the paper.) But I’m afraid to say I can no longer do it,” wrote Bob Jones.
“And as crap as I feel telling my son he can’t have the free Lego kit that he sees on the front of the paper in the store, I have explained to him that the paper it is attached to is the sort of paper that tells lies about people, like some of his friends from school. Even my six-year-old understands that what they print is wrong.”
Lego directly responded to Jones on November 7 to explain that it “continuously evaluates and develops its partnerships”, and again on November 12 to confirm its agreement with the DM was “finished”.
In a statement, Lego explained: “We spend a lot of time listening to what children have to say. And when parents and grandparents take the time to let us know how they feel, we always listen just as carefully.”