Lego Bricks It

NYT's Andrew Newman reported today that Lego prohibited the makers of the Spinal Tap "Unwigged and Unplugged" tour DVD from using a two-year-old stop-motion animation video of "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You" (below) created by Coleman Hickey that they had been using on their tour.

And why was this piece of content disallowed?

"We love that our fans are so passionate and so creative with our
products,” said Julie Stern, a spokeswoman for Lego Systems, the United
States division of the Lego Group, a Danish company founded in the
1930s. “But it had some inappropriate language, and the tone wasn’t
appropriate for our target audience of kids 6 to 12."

Cluephone, Julie – 6 to 12 year olds aren't the only ones who love Lego products.  Nor are they the ones, typically who BUY it.  Their parents do.  The same parents, probably dads, who love Spinal Tap.  And loved Lego.  And would have loved to see this little mashup – maybe as much as the Spinal Tap guys themselves, who worked it into their stage show for their recent tour.

Lego is making a classic error.  They don't own their brand anymore.  More than anyone, they should know that – they've been giving their brand to their fans to play with for years, in the shapes of those little bricks and every other shape they make.  And we have played with them – making things Lego never dreamed up, including an entire genre on YouTube of stop motion animation.

Which is of course where my five-year old got his first intro to animation.  through legos.  on YouTube.  Unfortunately it was watching this classic:

When other brands would KILL to get the kind of mashup Lego was just handed (Lego + stop motion + YouTube + SpinalTap Tour + DVD) rolled into a compilation DVD as a free ad for their product to adoring fans, why did Lego kill the fun?

“YouTube is a less commercial use,” Ms. Stern said. “But when you get
into a more commercial use, that’s when we have to look into the fact
that we are a trademarked brand, and we really have to control the use
of our brand, and our brand values.”

Darn, Julie. 

You can't control your brand anymore. 

You can choose who to spotlight though – and Coleman Hickey LOVED you. 

Loved you enough to take the time to build a movie using your product.  So what did the now sixteen-year-old Mr. Hickey have to say about the silliness?

“In a way I’m disappointed that it won’t be forever memorialized in a
DVD.  It’s not like I was going to get
any money for it, but it’s too bad. Lego has the right to do that, but
it’s unfortunate that they don’t have a little more of a sense of
humor.”

You nailed it, Coleman.