Will sorting out colored plastic bricks help you be less depressed? Right now, Lego is hoping that sad adults might make the leap from playing with Legos absent-mindedly, to believing that playing with Legos actually promotes mindfulness. Lego is trying to re-brand a little bit like a mental wellness organization for adults, which, as weird as that sounds, actually makes a ton of sense, and is certainly better than Goop. Maybe?
On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Lego is actively aware that stressed-out grown-ups are turning to the comfort of the blocks to deal with real-world anxieties. According to Genevieve Capa Cruz, Lego’s audience marketing strategist: “Adults with high-pressured jobs are telling us they’re using Lego to disconnect from the mania of the day…They’re looking for a relaxing, calming experience; and they like instructions because that’s what helps them be in the zone.”
In essence, if making your own Lego creation from a random pile of bricks represents chaos, then perhaps, following the instructions on big Lego set represents order. This is kind of like trying to do a complicated jigsaw puzzle when you’re stressed, but with one crucial difference: Building the Batmobile from Legos isn’t about mystery, it’s about the method. Larger Lego set these days are often touted for having a lot of pieces, which means, it might take a lot of time to build these suckers. Just try getting that 4,784-piece Star Destroyer together in one night.
But, if you’re using Lego-making to get yourself more centered, speed isn’t the goal; the goal is accuracy. In some new targeted Instagram ads, Lego is making it pretty clear that they are 100 percent trying to conflate snapping together plastic bricks, with calming down. As the Post mentions, one new Instagram ad says: “Building with Lego bricks reduces stress and improves your well-being. It’s zen, in the shape of a brick.”
Now, strictly speaking, Legos are not always zen. In fact, some of us have childhood memories in which building one of the more complicated sets led to more stress, not less. In this way, it’s possible the Lego has been going about their target demographic all wrong for years. Children like Legos, sure. But adults, love them. Think about it. Think about the children you know and the adults you know. Which group gets more excited about Legos? After all, kids aren’t rushing about to put the Michael Keaton Batmobile on their Christmas lists; those people are all people like me. (And, if you have assembled the Michael Keaton Batmobile, let me just say…you…are my number one…a- guy!)
This isn’t to say that Lego will cease to be a family-brand because they’ve noticed some adults are getting their jitters out through building stuff. There’s obviously something that is timeless for children about Legos, and perhaps, something that is nostalgic for adults right now about the brand. People of a certain age all probably had at least one grandparent who enjoyed building model ships, and maybe that’s what this is for the current generation of working adults.
Lego’s long success has always been connected to its ability to adapt to the zeitgeist, and if it can somehow convince us all that it’s not just a capitalist brand trying to get us to buy more environmentally unfriendly plastic, but that it’s something that is good for us, then that’s a smart move. Plus, if it does turn out to be actually good for us, even better.
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