BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends LEGO Modify Certain Broadcast Advertising to Better Disclose What Products Come with Initial Purchase

New York, NY – July 25, 2012 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that LEGO modify broadcast advertising for the LEGO City, Heavy Lift Helicopter and LEGO City, Forest Police Station to assure child viewers better understand what toys are included in each purchase.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory system and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Broadcast advertising for the LEGO products came to CARU’s attention through its routine monitoring of advertising directed to children.

The advertising at issue opened with a shot from the helicopter’s perspective as it flew through an urban landscape with multiple buildings and then over a LEGO forest with multiple trees. A separate shot showed the helicopter and police playsets set among multiple trees. The final island shot featured both playsets, a visual super that read “Each set sold separately” and a voiceover that stated “The new Forest Police Collection from LEGO City, each set sold separately.”
The advertiser noted that the flight for the advertising had ended shortly after it received CARU’s inquiry. However, the LEGO said, in the interests of running the advertising again, it wanted to address CARU’s concerns.

LEGO contended that the helicopter and police station playsets are depicted among various ““scene setting” elements, including trees and dirt and grass base plates. LEGO asserted that the elements are in the “background” and used to support the concept of the play theme. Further, the advertiser argued that the island shot at the end of the commercial would clear up any confusion the ad may have caused because it showed exact depictions of the playsets.

However, CARU determined that one message conveyed by the advertising is that “scene setting” elements are included in the initial purchase of the playsets. Further, CARU noted, the final island shot also included landscape base plates that were not sold as part of the advertised playsets. CARU recommended the company modify the advertising to more clearly disclose the items that come with an initial purchase.

LEGO, in its advertiser’s statement, said that “to address CARU’s concerns with this spot, we have agreed to add text and an additional voiceover to this commercial, clarifying that the base plates and background scenery are not included in the sets.”