Talk about protecting your Lego-cy.
Not long ago, Josh Stearns, a father of two young sons living in western Massachusetts, posted photos of a set of LEGO stickers on his Tumblr account. Stearns, who had just begun introducing the “diminutive building blocks” to his 4-year-old son, was appalled by the image of a hard-hatted construction worker waving at an unseen passersby, shouting “HEY BABE!”.
“I was so disappointed to see the brand affiliated with a product that normalized street harassment and cat-calling,” he wrote.
The Internet chattered. Bloggers weighed in; people began posting negative reviews of the product on Amazon, as The Consumerist noted. “It was so ridiculous that they would be putting this out there for kids,” Stearns, 35, told ABC News.
LEGOs took note; last week Stearns logged onto his computer and found an email from Charlotte Simonsen, senior director at LEGOs corporate communications office in Denmark. Simonsen explained that the stickers had been licensed by a company called Creative Imagination, and had been discontinued in the summer of 2010. Creative Imagination stopped operations in December of 2012.
She added that LEGOs typically uses humor “to communicate the Lego experience.” “We are sorry that you were unhappy with the way a mini-figure was portrayed here,” she wrote.
Stearns was unmoved. ”Clearly, a lot of people didn’t see the humor here,” he said.
He wrote Simonsen questions about LEGO’s licensing guidelines and how the product had made it through their review process in the first place. And to his surprise, he received a response from Andrea Ryder, the head of the LEGO’s Outbound Licensing Department.
“I am truly sorry that you had a negative experience with one of our products,” Ryder wrote, adding that the product was no longer available and that “we would not approve such a product again.”
While Ryder did not reveal specifics of LEGO’s licensing guidelines, she told Stearns that the company tries to make sure all its licensing deals are “fully aligned with the LEGO values.” “We choose our partners very carefully” she went on to say, adding that it can take more than two years in many cases, and that LEGO expects their licensees to “live up to the highest standards.” (Stearns posted her entire response here).
“I was happy to see they saw the severity of this,” he said. But he pointed out, “It wasn’t their initial response.”