Posted by Katie Buchanan, Head of Sustainability, Virgin Media
Brands we love: Lego
16 October 2020
As in-house sustainability professionals we spend a lot of time thinking about our internal programmes and where appropriate how these compare to what other brands are doing. This blog series is not about that.
We’ve ask each member of the sustainability team at Virgin Media to discuss another brand they’re loving right now, not as a benchmarking exercise, but simply highlighting other organisations doing brilliant work that they want to shout out.
This week Katie Buchanan, our Head of Sustainability, talks to us about why Lego’s recent announcement has caught her attention.
Earlier this month Lego announced that they would be investing over $400 million into a new programme to accelerate their development of sustainable materials. My understanding is that most of this investment will be specifically spent on a Sustainable Materials Programme, with more than 150 experts working to create sustainable products and packaging such as bio-bricks made from sugar cane. The Group has set a target to make all its products from sustainable materials by 2030.
When this popped into my inbox there are a number of things that leapt out to me and are the reason I wanted to highlight this brand. Perhaps it’s because I see my learnings from the last five years reflected in their work.
Firstly, the activity is very clearly linked to their product story. The idea of ‘if your products could talk what would they say’ has guided a lot of the work we’ve delivered at Virgin Media over the last five years. It’s the premise that if you don’t know, you don’t care. This product mantra has driven our activity – particularly for our ‘Better products’ goal where we created a unique scorecard methodology to examine their performance, and then share the story behind our products. And the same is true of this approach – it’s material to their business and puts their customer at the heart of their core activity to ensure Lego’s unique capabilities are leveraged.
Similarly, Lego is also focussing their efforts on children – as a brand with a product in many homes across the countries I’m pleased to see an audience engagement plan. By 2022, the Lego Group aims to reach 8 million children around the world annually with learning through play programmes. They plan to deliver this through a range of activities with partners and in collaboration with the Lego Foundation. Their aim is to give children-in-need access to play and opportunities to develop life-long skills such as problem solving, collaboration and communication. And what I also like is the transparency around their investment with 25% of profits from the Lego Group going to fund the Lego Foundation’s projects, activities and partnerships. There aren’t many companies that are so transparent about community investment nor those committing anywhere near 25% of their profits, this is a significant commitment and a real statement of intent of their social impact ambitions.
Their approach is also both clear and long term – ingredients we know are both critical to building significant positive change. Anyone that knows me, will know that ‘do few things really well’ has become my mantra over the last five years. Moving away from 31 partnerships and 25 targets to just five long-term goals gave us focus and head room to deliver a more significant impact. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. It’s enabled our team to become genuine subject matter experts, coupled with consistent messages to galvanise our people and the confidence to engage our customers with a cause – safe in the knowledge that our plan wasn’t going to change overnight. The same I suspect is true for Lego.
And finally, what I like is that Lego recognise the power of partnerships. The Lego Group work with many organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, World Wild Fund for Nature, RE100, UNICEF and Save the Children in order to create the greatest impact. I too believe that it’s only by setting shared goals and collaborating will significant positive change happen.
This is a four part blog series, stay tuned for next week’s addition to hear from another member of our sustainability team on the brand that’s impressing them at the moment.
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