Lego Australia Celebrates 50 Years
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the LEGO® brick in Australia. To commemorate the milestone, LEGO Australia has launched the Festival of Play, a nine-month schedule of activity set to pay homage to the humble LEGO brick, encouraging kids and adult fans alike to celebrate through play.
Throughout the campaign, a series of experiential events and elaborate creations, all inspired by the iconic construction bricks, will be unveiled at LEGOfestival.com.au
, with plenty of ways for Aussies young and old to get involved.
To launch the national initiative, LEGO Australia today premiered a 90-second trailer, at LEGOfestival.com.au
, illustrating how the LEGO brick, since first arriving in the suitcase of John Peddie in 1962, has sparked the imagination of kids and adults across Australia for half a century. Building the brightly-coloured foundations of LEGO Australia
The LEGO Australia story began when John Peddie, once a British sales representative, landed in Australia in 1962 after an eight-stop long haul flight from the UK, carrying just one suitcase filled with sample LEGO bricks.
Told by retailers "Australian kids play outdoors
this is an indoor toy
it'll never work", John persevered, building many weird and wonderful creations to demonstrate the endless possibilities of the LEGO bricks. He then encouraged buyers to flip his spaceship and pirate boat models upside down to show off the unique 'clutch power' of the LEGO brick. After months of door-to-door pitching, John finally won over one department store in Sydney with the interlocking plastic bricks
and the rest is history.
LEGO Australia is now, and has been for many years, the country's number one toy brand, with every Australian owning an average of 70 LEGO bricks. In 2011 alone, LEGO Australia sold almost 7 million LEGO sets. When stacked high, all the LEGO bricks in the country would reach almost 50,000 times the height of Sydney Tower Eye.
Still a member on the LEGO Australia Board of Directors, John Peddie comments on his 50-year journey with LEGO Australia: "The brand name LEGO comes from the Danish expression 'Leg Godt', which translates as 'play well'. When first arriving in the country, this was my mission, to encourage Australia to 'play well' and it remains the same today
"It's amazing to see how imagination and just one suitcase of bricks have opened up a world of play for Aussie children. I'm so proud to have introduced the LEGO phenomenon and its endless building possibilities to Australia."
Commenting on the launch of Festival of Play, Caroline Squire, Director of Marketing, LEGO Australia and New Zealand said: "There's no limit to the imagination and creativity that LEGO bricks inspire ... TheLEGO Festival of Play, will celebrate the half century of one of Australia's most loved toys and tap into the nation's fond LEGO memories, and create new LEGO experiences, big and small, to capture the imagination of Aussies of all ages.
"With this national initiative, we hope to inspire and develop the Australian builders of tomorrow." The LEGO® Group Fun Facts
Every Australian owns an average of 70 LEGO bricks;
In 2011 alone, LEGO Australia sold almost 7 million LEGO sets;
Children from all over the world spend 5 billion hours a day playing with LEGO sets;
There are 915 million ways to combine six 2 x 4 bricks;
306 million tyres for LEGO vehicles are being produced every year, making The LEGO Group the world's largest tyre manufacturer;
Laid end to end, the number of LEGO bricks sold in a year would reach more than ten times round the world;
The LEGO Brand is the Number 1 Toy Brand in Australia (Source: NPD, Week 12, 2012);
More than 7 LEGO sets are sold each second;
36,000 LEGO elements are produced every minute. The LEGO Group
is a privately held, family-owned company based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world's leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 10,000 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children's creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries.
In 1962, John Peddie
was the first man to introduce the LEGO brick and its endless building possibilities to Australia. Living in Northampton (United Kingdom), and working as a successful sales representative for the British division of The LEGO Group, John was selected by the company to explore the opportunities for LEGO product in the Australian market.
Fifty years ago, John landed in Australia after an eight-stop long haul flight from the UK with just one suitcase filled with basic LEGO sets (red and white bricks, windows, doors and a grey base plate).
John immediately began travelling from state to state, pitching the interlocking construction bricks to retailers with just one small sample set, which fit comfortably in his briefcase. Previously responsible for sales of LEGO sets in the large East Anglia region of the UK, travel had always been a part of John's role, but nothing could prepare him for the sheer scale of Australia and the long journeys between each state, all of which he initially travelled by car.
After months of door-to-door pitching, the first big break for John and LEGO product in Australia came when David Jones in the Sydney City Centre placed an order for a stand of basic LEGO sets.
The popularity of the LEGO brick in Australia was further cemented when LEGO Space, a favourite spaceship-themed range of John's, rocketed off of store shelves in the late 1970s.
Although initially brought out on a two-year contract to build relationships with retailers, John fell in love with the country and continued with his quest to introduce the LEGObrick to the nation. As demand for LEGO product continued across the country, John travelled to Perth in the early 1970s to train staff and build a LEGO warehouse for distribution across Western Australia. John then headed to Melbourne for further staff training, before he was appointed to the role of National Sales Manager in 1977, where he went on to become the company's Managing Director in 1991.
Now a member of the LEGO Australia Board of Directors, John is proud to have played a fundamental role in opening up a world of play of Aussies and establishing LEGO Australia, the country's no.1 toy brand.