Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

How Lego Became the Apple of Toys

Every September, largely unbeknownst to the rest of the company, a group of around 50 Lego employees descends upon Spain’s Mediterranean coast, armed with sunblock, huge bins of Lego bricks, and a decade’s worth of research into the ways children play. The group, which is called the Future Lab, is the Danish toy giant’s secretive and highly ambitious R&D team, charged with inventing entirely new, technologically enhanced “play experiences” for kids all over the world. Or, as Lego Group CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp puts it, “It’s about discovering what’s obviously Lego, but has never been seen before.”

On a Tuesday morning, the group is gathered in a book-lined room just off the pool at the Hotel Trias, in a sleepy town called Palamós, where they’ve met each of the last six years. There are bespectacled dudes in futuristic sneakers, a small cohort of stylish blonde women, and a much larger contingent of techie millennial guys in superhero T-shirts, all filling rows of folding chairs. At the front of the room, Erik Hansen, a tall, professorial member of Future Lab’s leadership team, is running through the week’s planned activities, which include extensive brainstorm sessions and a field trip to Barcelona (visiting the telecom giant Telefónica and some local design firms). He presents the agenda with a sober, vaguely robotic tone that makes what he does next surprising. As he brings the proceedings to a close, he asks, brightening, “Is everybody feeling awesome?”

Everything is awesome!
Everything is cool when you’re part of a team!
Everything is awesome!
When we’re living our dream!

The team laughs and applauds, Hansen hits play on a laptop and, suddenly, every single member of the Future Lab team joins in with summer-camp enthusiasm to sing a song seared into the memory of everyone who made last year’s The Lego Movie a $468 million global hit.


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