Lego embraces digital age in Korea
[THE INVESTOR] Denmark-based toy company Lego is bringing its plastic brick toys into the digital era with the introduction of an online social media platform and programmable Lego sets.
“We see digitalization as a great opportunity,” said Lego Korea General Manager Michael Ebbesen at a press conference at the Four Seasons Seoul on Monday, saying that the company‘s toys were not endangered by children’s growing preferences for digital entertainment. “We need children to express themselves not only digitally but also being creative in the physical world, playing with Lego.”
Lego Korea General Manager Michael Ebbesen speaks to reporters at the Four Seasons Seoul, Monday. Lego Korea.
Hence the Korean launch of Lego Life, a social media platform developed to integrate children‘s digital lives with their physical enjoyment of Lego toys, the company said. The platform allows children to share their Lego creations and take part in various challenges and games involving building with Lego.
The platform allows users to communicate only through emoticons in order to prevent hurtful comments, said Hanna Lee, digital marketing manager for Lego Korea. “Being evaluated limits the imagination. We want children to be able to share their unique Lego stories without being afraid of judgment from others.”
Designed exclusively for children, Lego Life app has other safety mechanisms including pre-made IDs to prevent online names that may expose a child’s identity or location, and a round-the-clock monitoring team to screen the posts on the platform.
At the press event, Kenneth Chin, marketing director at Lego Korea, also introduced the programmable Lego Boost, a battery-powered motor pack, a Bluetooth receiver and light, color and distance sensors that can be controlled through a smartphone app. After building a creation with Lego, children will be able to code programs on the app to instruct the creations to make sounds or simple movements.
“Programming is mandatory in schools starting next year in middle and high school, and in primary school the following year,” Chin said. “Lego Boost brings coding to children in a really cool and fun way, to bring their creations to life and unlock their limitless imagination.”
Lego Boost is compatible with existing Lego bricks. The Lego Boost will be available starting in September in Korea.
Lego Korea said it hopes these new rollouts will help to drive sales in the Korean market, which still has much potential for growth.
“When we compare Korea with other markets -- Germany, Australia, Japan -- it is clear, from the figures at least, that Korean children do not play so much. At least, they don’t buy toys in general, and this is something that we hope to change,” said Ebbesen. “If we can help a little to have Korean children playing more, to have Korean parents prioritize playing as a part of children‘s development, it will be a great achievement.”
By Won Ho-jung/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)