Lego kicked off this year’s Pride with its “A-Z of Awesome” campaign — through which the toymaker seeks to engage the LGBTQ community in building an alphabet of representation while encouraging families to explore and discuss their different identities. This campaign continues the toymaker’s recent strategy of actively promoting representation and creativity in play and pursuing profit through purpose-driven means.
“A-Z of Awesome” will run through 2023. During this time, the brand is asking its enthusiasts and employees alike within the LGBTQ community to assist in creating the alphabet. By exploring the letters behind the abbreviations, Lego hopes to “build understanding and acceptance” — that is, according to the campaign’s press release. Those who would like to participate are invited to visit the website and pick a word from the alphabet. Builders are asked to use the hashtag #AtoZofAwesome to share their creations on social media and include an explanation of what their build means to them.
Examples of the alphabet currently on display include a colorful bed of flowers under a big striated Q for Queer, by Lego builder Marko—who is quoted on the site as saying, “Queer isn’t an easy term to explain. It represents lots of different things to different people. But it’s the coming together of varied parts of the community that represent its true strength and beauty. You just need to look at it from the right angle…” For those who prefer using the LGBTQAI+ acronym, A is for Asexual, another builder created a snapshot of the beauty of a full life, including a bike ride through a park accompanied by a four-legged friend. Kami is quoted as describing the motivation behind the scene: “In my experience coming to my identity, I found that the world is full of so much beauty and wonder. Color, music, texture, art . . . I can’t imagine a world without these things being a center point of life. And spending time with my dog is cool too!”
“The A-Z of Awesome” campaign comes at a time when reports of harassment and discrimination directed at LGBTQ citizens are rising. More than half of LGBTQ students who took part in the most recent National School Climate Survey reported feeling unsafe at school because their sexual orientation could make them a target. This held for just under half of students who feared the same because of their gender expression. Thirty-seven percent said that their gender alone was enough for them to feel unsafe. While a toymaker can’t be expected to fix statistics like that, by creating a place of expression and representation Lego certainly appears eager to do its part to change the social climate.
Hang out in the comments section of “A-Z of Awesome” social media ads long enough and accusations of rainbow-washing will inevitably appear. But while many corporations do just slap a few rainbows on in June to make a quick buck, Lego’s commitment comes across as genuine. The company works with a number of partners year-round in order to promote inclusion and representation — including Open for Business, Stonewall and Workplace Pride. And the toymaker responded to research showing that stereotype-based toys are harmful to all children by committing to remove genderization from its products and marketing — partnering with the Geena Davis Institute since the beginning of 2021 to ensure accountability in this initiative.
Pidgeon Pagonis, a contributor to the “A-Z of Awesome” campaign who is also intersex, broke down the importance of gender-neutral toys, explaining via the public statement, “Growing up I remember feeling this sense of shame, like oh there’s something wrong with me, or the things I desire or want.” They went on to explain how the campaign could help others, “This project is important because there might be an intersex person out there who likes to build with LEGO bricks, and this can help them see themselves represented. It would have been a game-changer for me to see myself reflected in stories in popular media and culture.”
The A-Z of Awesome campaign continues Lego’s commitment to a purpose-driven model of business based on inclusion and representation. As consumers come to expect more from the businesses that they spend their money with, the popular Danish brand is making the right moves to cement itself in the hearts and minds of an ever-growing fanbase.
Image credit: Lego
Riya Anne Polcastro is an author, photographer and adventurer based out of the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys writing just about anything, from gritty fiction to business and environmental issues. She is especially interested in how sustainability can be harnessed to encourage economic and environmental equity between the Global South and North. One day she hopes to travel the world with nothing but a backpack and her trusty laptop.