By Geoff De Weaver, CEO + Founder Touchpoint Entertainment Inc. https://geoffdeweaver.com/
Globally renowned Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei has created works of art in a number of different mediums including video, photography, and sculpture. But when he wanted to design his next major work using their little plastic bricks, Lego denied his rights as an artist and last October told him NO. This action unleashed a brand damaging blow for Lego. And is a classic example of brand mismanagement by the Danes!
Lego tried to explain by saying that Ai Weiwei’s was too energetic and politically-charged art and that it violated their policy of not supporting “political, religious, racist, obscene or defaming statements.” This is how Al Weiwei responded on Twitter recently:
Importantly, in today’s digital, social media and mobile environment, Lego clearly underestimated the power of social media marketing and people power in today’s always on world. The #legosforweiwei campaign clearly prompted Lego to drop its anti-political endorsement bulk order policy. While the amount of damage to their brand is not quite on the same scale as VW’s recent brand disaster, The corporate aura of the Lego brand was tarnished.
Watch this: Lego bans Ai Weiwei from using bricks for ‘political’ artwork in Australia earlier this year: https://youtu.be/XFO0NK29X24 via @YouTube
The National Gallery of Victoria said Ai, a democracy activist who has been jailed in China, wanted the Lego for a “room scale installation” as part of an exhibition highlighting Australian advocates for human rights and free speech.
Following his tweet, and the ensuing Twitter and Instagram Storm, Lego told the press worldwide that it was changing its policy in the wake of a backlash surrounding the bulk order they had received from Ai Weiwei. Lego refused to supply the order, saying it could not support political statements.
However, Wei Wei went on to create his highly acclaimed self portrait shown below AND, is now using Lego for a “room scale installation” as part of an exhibition highlighting Australian advocates for human rights and free speech at The National Gallery of Victoria.
Above: Here is a Self Picture in Lego created by Ai Weiwei the Chinese Contemporary artist and activist.
This is a classic example of how breaking news in the Age of Digital Disruption can impact even innovative brands and companies AND get disrupted at the speed of sound today. It also illustrates that if you want to be competitive today you must always be anticipating, transforming and be continuously re-visiting your brand’s story.
You must also focus on an ever changing audience by thinking globally and digitally. Today’s successful companies must fully utilize ALL the current technologies such as social media monitoring and listening tools, analytics, measurement and design tools or face getting slammed in the years head. Especially if your brand is trying to resist human rights and freedom of speech today.
Bottom-line: All brands today must learn from history so they don’t repeat past mistakes in judgement, honesty, integrity, transparency and TRUST. Especially in areas like: human rights, free speech. Especially, as stated in The United Nations – Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 General Assembly Resolution 217. )
Sure hope LEGO and other Fortune 500 brands learn from this lesson, the Board sets new standards for the Digital Age and policies and importantly understand history and learn.
Stay Passionate and win the day!
More About Geoff De Weaver:
Hailing originally from New York; Geoff De Weaver is the globally experienced entrepreneur, technology disruptor, trend hunter, transformation expert and keynote speaker behind Touchpoint Entertainment Inc.
Feel free to get in touch with Geoff for further information:
You might enjoy these recent posts too:
Does Disruption Resonate with your Board? https://geoffdeweaver.com/does-disruption-resonate-with-your-board/
The Ten Commandments of the Digital Age https://geoffdeweaver.com/the-10-commandments-in-the-digital-age/