(Billund, Denmark) As the Christmas buying season approaches, a civil war has erupted within the LEGO Group that will define the company for a generation. At issue, the decision whether to market Lego’s “Build the Wall” kit during Christmas this year.
Earlier this Spring, a group of LEGO executives began conducting US marketing research. They quickly learned that LEGO has gained a cult like following within conservative families because the blocks can be used by their children to practice building the Mexican-American border wall. Seeking to capitalize on the marketing opportunity, LEGO’s North American President Soren Torp Laursen authorized the creation of the LEGO “Build the Wall” kit for Christmas 2018. Internal marketing studies predict that it will be Lego’s first billion dollar project.
It is likely that LEGO would have avoided a corporate civil war but for the fateful decision to put a “MAGA” emblem on the side of the kit’s packaging. In August, Lego’s worldwide CEO, Jorgen Vig Knudstrop, saw a mock up of the Build the Wall box and stopped the project in its tracks. He then sent what has become known internally as LEGO’s “Jerry Maguire memo” in which he stated that as a corporation, LEGO values compassion more than profits and would not sell kits clearly aimed at pandering to President Trump’s base. North American President Laursen fought back, issuing his own competing memo, a copy of which has been obtained by NGEFTO. Laursen’s memo states: “One MAGA emblem on the side of the box doesn’t make the kit political. Children throughout the world have built walls with Lego blocks since 1932. I categorically reject that this is a political kit. Sometimes a wall is just a wall. And there is nothing wrong with making a billion dollars while you are building walls with Lego blocks!” Refusing to fall in line, Laursen plans to move ahead with the project despite Knudstop’s directive.
On Tuesday, November 13th, Laursen and Knudstrop will face off and present their competing corporate visions to the Lego Board. At issue, the soul of this Danish company–will it choose profits or compassion this Christmas?