Lego has announced it has ended its relationship with the Daily Mail after campaigners targeted some of the UK’s biggest newspapers over their coverage of inflammatory issues such as immigration and race following the vote for Brexit.
The Danish toy maker posted a message on Twitter on Saturday confirming its current agreement with the Mail had finished and that it was “not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper.”
For some years now Lego has used the Daily Mail to run popular giveaway promotional campaigns for its toys.
Lego said it made the move after parents voiced concerns that its brand could be damaged by links to newspapers which have taken such a hostile stance on race, immigration and gender issues.
“The main purpose for us as a company is to develop amazing, creative Lego play experiences to children all over the world,” said a Lego spokesperson. “In order to do that successfully, we spend a lot of time listening to what children have to say. And when parents and grandparents take the time to let us know how they feel, we always listen just as carefully.”
One parent, Bob Jones, published a letter he had written to Lego on Facebook, criticising the newspaper over its controversial “enemies of the people” front page which attacked three judges for ruling that parliament should have a say on when Britain triggers Article 50.
“Headlines that do nothing but create distrust of foreigners, blame immigrants for everything, and … are now having a go at top judges in the UK for being gay while making a legal judgment. Their stories have gone a little too far. (A lot too far),” wrote Mr Jones.
The campaign group Stop Funding Hate has been targeting a number of major brands since the Brexit vote, urging them to stop advertising in rightwing newspapers such as the Mail, The Sun and the Daily Express.
Its Facebook page now has more than 162,000 likes. The group, which was formed in August, says it “aims to tackle the culture of hate, demonisation and division that is poisoning our political discourse.”
It is appealing to other companies such as the crisps manufacturer Walkers and the department store John Lewis to stop advertising with some of the UK press.
The campaign will only add to the pressure on Britain’s struggling newspaper industry as it faces an alarming drop in print advertising revenues. Analysts at Enders are predicting a 15-20 per cent drop in 2016.
One source at the Mail’s parent company, Daily Mail and General Trust, said there were concerns that more advertisers will now follow Lego’s lead.
A spokesman for the Daily Mail said: “Our agreement with Lego has ended and we have no plans to run any promotional activity with Lego in the foreseeable future.”