Bricks and Kicks: LEGO’s World Cup Ad Hits Big for Fans


Play Unstoppable

LEGO’s Women’s World Cup ad isn’t just an opportunity for the toy brand to get in on a major sporting event, it’s a chance for LEGO to get across its philosophy of play, the purpose that underpins the Danish company and shines through in most of its ads.

Play and imagination in the LEGO world is a way to grow, express yourself and overcome your fears, and the ad mixes top footballers from the women’s game with a typical LEGO ad fantasia, full of brick-based scoring and shooting challenges as well as the more usual penalty kicks and stunning goals. We see fans as well, cheering on Megan Rapinoe, one of the ad’s stars. The ad is topped off with a child’s voiceover about the power of play.

It’s a solid ad that gets into the spirit of a tournament which looks set to convert a whole new generation of girls worldwide to football. But the ad really comes into its own when football fans encounter it. We tested LEGO’s commercial among the general public and among a special sample of soccer fans, using Test Your Ad Pro, which allows custom testing alongside the standard representative sample.

Why football fans? Partly for the obvious reason that they’ll be the ones watching the games and seeing the ads – for a UK audience, the Lionesses and their rivals are multiple time zones away, so most of the audience will be those with an interest already. But we also wanted to see how well the ad did with sports fans because of a new report being published on July 31 from System1 and FUSE, titled The Sport Dividend.

The Sport Dividend is about exactly what it says – the bonus to effectiveness brands can get when they include elements which appeal to sports fans. The Sport Dividend is the uplift in effectiveness an ad gets among sports fans – and since 44% of the UK population play or watch a sport regularly and 70% of Americans identify as sports fans, that’s not a niche market. What we looked for in the report were ads which did well among the general population and then saw a jump in performance with that sports fan audience.

LEGO’s World Cup commercial is exactly this kind of ad. It scores 3.2-Stars among the general population in the UK – a good performance, but roughly in line with its overall category. In The US, the general population rates it 2.8-Stars. Among football fans, though, it hit an excellent 4.7-Stars in the UK and 5.2 in the US. Massively better. But what accounts for that improvement?

One of the most interesting aspects of the study is how creative elements in advertising work differently among a sports audience. As you’d expect, the football elements in the LEGO ad go down extremely well along the fan sample. But in the study we found that aspects of ads which often drag them down creatively – like voiceovers – can have a different effect for sports fan viewers.

Voiceovers generally underperform because they distract from the action on screen, and this split attention dampens emotional response. But sports fans are used to voiceovers from commentators – they have no problem processing action and description simultaneously, and in The Sport Dividend we saw that the negative effect of voiceovers disappeared for the custom sample. It looks like that’s happening for LEGO, too, with that big jump in effectiveness turning an average ad into a winner.

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