The Denmark-based Lego Group has become the first major toy company to take concrete steps toward addressing the ongoing protests rippling across America following the death of George Floyd. On Wednesday, Lego announced that it would be donating $4 million to organizations dedicated to racial equality.
“We stand with the black community against racism and inequality,” the company said in a statement posted on its official Twitter and Instagram accounts.
The post also marked a “pause” in all marketing across the company’s social media channels. Additionally, Lego has requested that members of its affiliate marketing program pause the promotion of specific playsets, many of which have a police or law enforcement theme. Earlier this week, the Toybook published the copy of an email sent to affiliates by the marketing network Rakuten LinkShare. “In light of recent events, Lego has requested the below products to be removed from sites and any marketing ASAP,” the letter begins. The list of more than 30 products includes such playsets as Sky Police Air Base, Police Highway Arrest, Police Handcuffs & Badge and Police Pursuit, as well as a Lego version of the White House, which has been the site of several clashes between police and protesters.
In a statement provided to Yahoo Entertainment, Lego stresses that these playsets are not being pulled from sale in stores or online, but confirms that they are part of an ongoing marketing pause. No end date was specified as to when the brand would resume marketing. (Read the full statement below.)
There is no place for racism in our society. We stand with the black community against racism and inequality. Our mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, and that includes inspiring them to be tolerant, inclusive and kind. There is more to do and as one small step, we are donating US$4 million to organizations in the U.S. dedicated to organizations that support black children and others that educate all children about tolerance and racial equality.
We would like to clarify that we have not removed any sets from sale. The misunderstanding is the result of an email that was sent on our behalf to members of our affiliate marketing program. The intent of the email was to ask that they pause promoting and marketing a selection of Lego products on their sites. We paused all marketing across our own social channels earlier this week in response to the tragic events in the U.S.
We regret any misunderstanding and will be clearer about our intentions in the future.
Lego also posted a clarification on Twitter and received a wide range of replies: Some thanked it for its actions, some bemoaned them and others felt they should have gone further.
We’ve seen incorrect reports saying we’ve removed some LEGO sets from sale. To be clear, that is not the case and reports otherwise are false. Our intention was to temporarily pause digital advertising in response to events in the US. We hope this clears things up. ♥️— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) June 4, 2020
The lego group really set an example by their actions. Unlike most, they donated, and unlike most who donated, they donated a sizeable sum. While I believe they should donate more, they did it to a good cause, and backed it up with further action.— wyatt (@KDNX_Wyatt) June 4, 2020
I appreciate the efforts you have taken in response to what is going on. I am a faithful LEGO customer and will remain so forever— Robert Eberhard (@GuruEbby) June 4, 2020
It’s you still taking the stance that police and fire fighters are bad.— Nathaniel Mendenhall (@nathendenhall) June 4, 2020
Here's an opportunity to do the right thing and remove police-themed sets from sale.— Meg - Staying At Home Forever (@geo_megs) June 4, 2020
Lego makes so many wonderful, fun, creative play experiences for children - stop selling police sets! There are many other ways to create joy and positivity for our kids!— David van der Goes (@Vandergata) June 4, 2020
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment