As Lego launches its Rebuild the World campaign, Matthew Ashton, the toy company's VP of design, explains how it is embracing digital technology and licensing agreements to encourage children to play.
Lego has become the world's largest toy manufacturer by selling plastic bricks, but with the future of physical toys under threat from digital alternatives Ashton believes that children's creativity is suffering.
"Creativity is not given the attention it needs right now," said Ashton. "When I was a kid there were only four TV channels and only two you wanted to watch. You made the most of everything you had around you – and of course you had great toys as well."
Earlier this month the toy manufacturer launched a campaign titled Rebuild the Worldto encourage children to play and develop creative skills.
"Now there are so many activities through school and after school, and so much media to consume, that maybe playing and creativity is being brushed aside and we want to put that in the forefront," explained Ashton.
Along with the campaign, Lego has been adapting its products to encourage children to physically engage with toys in an increasingly competitive market.
"With the products we are designing, we are always going to innovate to make sure we are bringing in new experiences and change the way we do things," continued Ashton.
"If Lego bricks and the Lego products were still the same as in the 80s, we would not be as relevant now."
Lego trying to balance free-playing with instructions
Although Ashton acknowledges that some Lego traditionalists may want the company to only produce bricks and not instruction-led sets, he believes that instructions have an important part to play in developing creativity.
"It had been a preconception of Lego that it had become very instruction focused and that every kit was a one-time solution. Yes, that is a starting point for a lot that we do, but the portfolio also has the buckets of bricks," said Ashton.
"It is also about balance. Some kids can just dive into a box of Lego and just start sticking things together, while other kids can be really intimidated by it and need instructions and need help and need guidance."