Is there a better toy than LEGO? The simple, interlocking brick with its ageless design and infinite possibilities has been an imagination-cultivator for generations.

Universally beloved, the brand has seen plaything fads come and go yet has always remained a firm favourite amongst small (and not so small) fans. 

For their first global brand work in 30 years, LEGO's in-house agency teamed up with BETC Paris to create Rebuild the World - a TV, online and out of home campaign that launches with a intricate, inspired 103-second wonder from Stink directing collective Traktor.

Following a chase between a clever rabbit and an unlucky hunter, the adventure unfolds in the kind of world that only LEGO play could create - with every character, animal and vehicle based on an existing or past LEGO toy. Eagle-eyed fans will also spot some easter eggs that span the generations; from first LEGO wooden duck toys, to a dragon wearing Jeremy Scott adidas trainers and a life-size replica of the LEGO House in Billund. 

We were entranced by the film and its accompanying assets, so sat down with BETC founder Remi Babinet, LEGO in-house agency Senior VP Remi Marcelli and directing team Traktor to talk brick.

LEGO – Rebuild The World

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Remi Babinet, BETC & Remi Marcelli, The LEGO Agency

It’s been 30 years since the last global LEGO campaign - why is now the right time to launch a new one?

Remi Marcelli - We feel it’s the best time now because, simply, we are winning in our industry. 

We are constantly growing and our sales are good, but we want to make sure that our growth is coming from the right place. People need to know that LEGO is more than just a toy; we are a creative tool that enables creativity, that helps kids to develop their own creative skills.

LEGO is one of the most loved brands in the world. I don’t think anyone dislikes LEGO, it’s impossible.

We see the need for more creative people, and our answer to that is to play with LEGO. When you buy a LEGO set, you buy more than a toy, you buy an experience that will teach you things that will stay with you forever. 

Is it tough to ‘sell’ a brand that is known and loved throughout the world? What’s the challenge?

Rémi Babinet - That’s a very interesting question because LEGO is one of the most loved brands in the world. I don’t think anyone dislikes LEGO, it’s impossible.

The difficulty is, even if you’re loved, you have to say something new. With LEGO, the advantage is creativity. LEGO is about building something, but creativity is intrinsically linked to LEGO for everybody. We had to put that in the centre of the conversation.

At BETC, we are, fundamentally, about creativity. We are a very creative agency, but it was challenging for us to have to work on the subject of creativity. It was a first for me.

We proposed the line ‘Rebuild The World’ to LEGO, and it all came from there.

Above: Remi Babinet, BETC [left] & Remi Marcelli, The LEGO Agency [right].

How was it collaborating between the in-house agency and BETC?

RM - It’s important to point out that we worked together on this, and worked well together. The in-house agency is almost 500 people-strong, around the world, doing the communication for LEGO.

RB - It was a very interesting collaboration, as they gave birth to the world and we helped them to deliver it in a way that is really unique and true to LEGO. 

Did you always imagine the commercial to be a mixture of live-action and animation, rather than the straight-up LEGO Movie look?

RM - We needed to surprise the world with something different, because we wanted to talk to people who respect LEGO, love LEGO but don’t necessarily buy LEGO. We needed to grab their attention.

You are in the head of a child playing with LEGO

If we went with stop-motion or mini-fig animated content, they may see it, but not necessarily pay attention, because they already felt that it was not for them. 

We wanted to distinguish ourselves from what LEGO is doing in entertainment content by creating an execution that would intrigue people to the end, to figure out what is happening and the brand behind it. 

RB - For me, when you play with LEGO, you forget it’s LEGO when because you are in your own imagination; it is so real. That is what we wanted to show; you are in the head of a child playing with LEGO.

What did TRAKTOR bring to the table?

Rémi Babinet - When you say you’re making a commercial for LEGO, you have the best directors in the world at your disposal. What TRAKTOR brought was experimentation. 

RM - When we saw all the propositions, we felt chemistry with TRAKTOR. They really understood the idea, and then added value. Plus, when they saw the scenario, they felt it was possible to do, which not everyone did. 

RB - It was a perfect answer. We loved them.

RM - They added a layer where you can feel it is LEGO, but it’s not LEGO. They added a lot of details in the background that made the content magic for someone who knows LEGO,

The film is littered with recognisable LEGO elements and a few Easter Eggs. What parts were essential and what might people not spot on first watch?

RB - There had to be ducks.

RM - We needed ducks, because the first toy from LEGO was a wooden duck. It is very iconic for the brand and the people who know it well.

 There are toilets in everything we do, and kids love it.

In the company, we have an exercise where you give an employee a set of six bricks and ask them to build any duck they want with it. It’s a big of a challenge; everybody who has worked with or for LEGO knows the ducks.

The other thing was toilets. There are toilets in everything we do, and kids love it. 

I remember their face when I said we need to have ducks and toilets...

RB - In terms of things people might not notice, there’s the LEGO House in there. Plus a lion drinking from a cup. 

One fun element is that all the clothes are printed in 2D, like LEGO figurine. So, for example, the hunter’s binoculars are just printed onto his jacket. Also, the jacket’s pattern is little rabbits.

Click image to enlarge
Above: A collection of the oversized billboards springing up in key cities.

Aside from the spot, what other elements are involved in the campaign?

RM - We have a lot of eye-catching billboard and OOH executions.

RB - The work is both fun and meaningful - we wanted to share a message.

Also, the images are shot by a luxury photographer, because we wanted every part of the brick design to been seen in all its glory on the side of buildings.

Above: Some DOOH films launching as part of the campaign.

Traktor, Stink

What was it that attracted you to the project?

The BRAND! Having visited LEGOLAND since the age of five, LEGO has always been in our blood system and still is (…and we’re probably not alone). 

So, reading the first draft of the script was quite overwhelming: Bringing your favorite TOY into the REAL world felt like an incredibly fun task - and a TALL order. 

Wow! How do we DO that…?

The possibilities were endless, literally. And still are, but the film shows ONE version of it. 

What was your approach to the work?

We approached the project with a spring in our step and a big calculator in hand. How BIG does a Lego Wrench or a Coffee Mug need to be in the hands of a human? Way bigger than you think, trust us. Building all the (oversized) props was a big part of the fun creating this universe. 

We also decided early on to be very strict about the WARDROBE and keeping it close to the Lego world. So we PRINTED every piece of garment, just like you see on real LEGO figures. 

It was an interesting process: First we dressed everyone in REAL clothes and photographed them (in flat light). Then we printed that on a 'secret fabric' and custom tailored each costume individually for each one of the actors. This all to achieve that beautiful 2D look from the Lego Mini figures. Call us complicated, but it still makes us smile. 

Click image to enlarge
Above: A breakdown of some of the LEGO fashion on display in the spot.

How much prep was required? What was the most time-consuming process?

The prep was long and detailed. We worked closely together with the brilliant creative team at BETC in Paris. 

The DESIGN of our LEGO universe was obviously a huge deal: colorizing it, populating it, bringing it to life etc. 

Also, trying to find a Caterham Car in good condition in South America…and then teach a Rabbit how to drive it, was certainly easier said than done. 

How was the shoot? Were there any unexpected setbacks?

The shoot was great and spectacular! We spent a few weeks in Valparaiso, Chile, which already looks like a LEGO town; incredibly colorful and playful. 

We had put together a stellar team for the job: Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema; Production Designer Nick Foley-Oates; Costume Designer Liz Botes; Editor Rick Russell at Final Cut and MPC/Mikros Paris for Post Production. 

Also, watching the Chileans witnessing their city turning into a Lego world was a true pleasure. 

Setbacks? Hello…you’re breaking up!

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Above: A few of the spot's many easter eggs.

What's your favourite moment/easter egg from the finished film?

There are so many Easter eggs and hints to the LEGO World in there, some more hidden than others. 

The 'spinning head' in the barbershop is one to remember. The Printed wardrobe is another detail that you need to look twice for to realize (blink and you miss it).

Spot the printed life vest on the sailor and you can win a hammock. 

We love that the film is filled with a lot of hidden details, and not too in your face. We hope this opens up for repeat viewings.