On Wednesday, The Daily Wire reported that LEGO, the children’s toy block maker, had asked affiliates to halt marketing and advertising of their LEGO “City” playsets featuring police officers and other first responders, as well as sets featuring the White House, and kits designed to help children “play pretend” as law enforcement.
On Thursday, the toymaker clarified its decision — but their explanation left some hardcore leftists, supportive of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, seeing red.
Toy Book said Wednesday that various toy blogs, fan sites, and retailers received an email through LEGO’s affiliate marketing system asking them to pull advertising from select LEGO playsets. The list, which included police and fire buildings, “cop” and “crook” Minifigs, and even a “LEGO Donut Shop” playset and the adult creative LEGO White House, came without explanation but most affiliates assumed the move was in response to national protests calling attention to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
LEGO fans were confused, and Wednesday night, the company clarified, first issuing a statement to Toy Book and then issuing their own corrective Tweet, elaborating on their rationale.
“We requested that our affiliate partners refrain from posting promotional LEGO content as part of our decision to respect #BlackOutTuesday and pause posting content on our social media channels in response to the tragic events in the US. We regret any misunderstanding and will ensure that we are clearer about our intentions in the future,” the company told the toy reporting outlet.
“We’ve seen incorrect reports saying we’ve removed some LEGO sets from sale. To be clear, that is not the case and reports otherwise are false. Our intention was to temporarily pause digital advertising in response to events in the US. We hope this clears things up,” the company tweeted Thursday.
We’ve seen incorrect reports saying we’ve removed some LEGO sets from sale. To be clear, that is not the case and reports otherwise are false. Our intention was to temporarily pause digital advertising in response to events in the US. We hope this clears things up. ♥️
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) June 4, 2020
That left a number of leftists, who thought LEGO had removed the playsets from sale altogether, deeply disappointed in LEGO’s failure to fully distance itself from law enforcement.
On social media, leftists labeled LEGO, “cowards,” and urged the toymaker to “stop selling police toys” and stop contributing to the “militarized police state” with its charming blocky sets.
Oh, well, never mind all the goodwill you had suddenly. https://t.co/8FsPKle0Uy
— Peter (@Peter_Smyk) June 4, 2020
"What we've actually done is nothing! K thx!" https://t.co/TW8OR3kFY8
— sara "university should be free" birrell (@birlios) June 4, 2020
I tweeted about LEGO possibly pulling their police themed sets and that was incorrect. Sorry about spreading false information. I am deleting that previous tweet. But also, hey @LEGO_Group maybe pull all your police themed sets! https://t.co/TK3AJ1Ob3y
— Anita Sarkeesian (@anitasarkeesian) June 4, 2020
Others accused LEGO of disproportionately representing law enforcement in the “Lego City,” apparently not realizing that the LEGO City is, in fact, make-believe.
“Shame. Lego City sets come with so many police that the Lego City has more police than civilians. Would be nice if Lego focused on other aspects of urban life. They’re generally a good, ethical company. It’s a shame they can’t see an avenue for action here,” one particularly aggrieved activist tweeted.
Fortunately for LEGO, not everyone was upset. The conversation in the company’s mentions quickly went from browbeating the block company over its lack of social justice bona fides to true fans asking the company to respond to other issues, like when the LEGO bakery would be back in stock.
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