Children’s toymaker LEGO has reportedly requested its affiliate retailers pull marketing for a number of playsets depicting law enforcement and emergency responders, as well as “crooks,” and even the White House, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and the ensuing demonstrations.
Toy Book, which covers the children’s toy manufacturing and marketing industries, reported earlier this week that “an email sent to affiliate marketers by Rakuten Linkshare on behalf of the LEGO Group,” lists 30 separate playsets the company wants to downplay.
“The email requests removal of product listings and features for more than 30 LEGO building sets, Minifigures, and accessories that include representation of police officers, firefighters, criminals, emergency vehicles, and buildings. Sets include the LEGO City Police Station, Fire Station, Police Dog Unit, Patrol Car, Fire Plane, Mobile Command Center, Police Highway Arrest, and many more,” the outlet said.
The list also includes playsets with a tangential relation to law enforcement, like the “LEGO City Donut Shop Opening” set, which has both a police officer and a “crook” Minifigure included, and the LEGO City “Police Handcuffs and Badge Set” which allows kids to role-play as their favorite characters from their LEGO playsets.
The email even lists the “adult builder LEGO Creator version of The White House.”
The items will all remain for sale, the company just doesn’t want marketers actively promoting the sets, potentially so that activists don’t blame LEGO for supporting law enforcement (or, it seems, the president). The law enforcement, first responder, and White House playsets are all still in stock on LEGO’s primary website and elsewhere.
LEGO fansites, Toy Book says, also received the letter.
“Hey @LEGO_Group can you elaborate?” one fansite, the Brick Loft, posted on social media after getting the affiliate marketing company’s email. “Is it #BlackOutTuesday? We all firmly believe #BlackLivesMattter. For decades #LEGO police & fire rescue have been the very best example of how to protect and rescue fellow minifigs and kids playing. What kind of message are you making here??”
LEGO did not respond to requests for comment, but yesterday, on “#BlackOutTuesday,” the company posted a message of solidarity with anti-police brutality demonstrations.
“We stand with the black community against racism and inequality,” the brand wrote on social media. “There is much to do. We will donate $4 million to organizations dedicated to supporting black children and educating all children about racial inequality.”
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) June 3, 2020
Toy Book points out that LEGO stores were among those businesses attacked and looted in New York earlier this week.
“New York was under a curfew that would last until early Tuesday morning, officials said, after looters raided stores in central Manhattan, targeting some of the city’s top retailers,” local news reported Tuesday. “Upmarket fashion store Michael Kors on Fifth Avenue was among the luxury outlets hit, along with Nike, Lego and electronics shops across Midtown, before the 11 pm to 5 am curfew came into effect.”
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