Lego is the first corporation to give in to demands from the “Stop Funding Hate” campaign and will drop advertising from the UK’s Daily Mail over its coverage of child refugees.
@StopFundingHate We have finished the agreement with The Daily Mail and are not planning any future promotional activity with the newspaper
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) 12 November 2016
Stop Funding Hate” has pushed retailers and large corporations to divest from “right wing newspapers” over stories questioning whether child refugees from Syria and the Middle East settling near the UK were, in fact, children, and over stories supportive of Brexit. The campaign has targeted Lego, as well as UK grocery chain Waitrose, and department store Marks & Spencer, among others.
The Daily Mail published a story in October with accounts from refugee foster families who claimed that some of the “child asylum seekers” they were assigned were much older than they expected. The families also claimed UK officials had failed to respond to their concerns.
Last week, though, a letter from a “concerned father” to Lego, over the company’s ties with Daily Mail, went viral. Suddenly, it seems, Lego felt a wave of social media pressure, which may have led to Sunday’s announcement.
“I love Lego. My 6-year-old son loves Lego. He inherited all of mine three years ago and his collection has multiplied many times since…It seems you can do no wrong,” the letter from Bob Jones read. “But I’m concerned. For a few years now you have done free giveaways in the Daily Mail newspaper… But I’m afraid to say I can no longer do it.”
“Your links to the Daily Mail are wrong. And a company like yours shouldn’t be supporting them,” he went on, dramatically. “And as crap as I feel telling my son he can’t have the free Lego kit that he sees on the front of the paper in the store, I have explained to him that the paper it is attached to is the sort of paper that tells lies about people, like some of his friends from school.”
“Stop Funding Hate” says they believe that through pressuring advertisers to withdraw their sponsorship deals with key targets they can control media reporting.
They issued a statement in response to Lego’s decision: “Stop Funding Hate welcomes the decision from Lego. We are asking brands to listen to their customers when they tell them they want to stop funding hate, and that is what they’ve done.”
Daily Mail says, simply, that their contract with Lego for free giveaways has ended.