Lego admits Ai Weiwei snub 'mistake', Amazon reports record profits...and more

Lego has admitted it was a mistake to snub Ai Weiwei
Lego has admitted it was a mistake to snub Ai Weiwei

Welcome to Marketing's early morning roundup, a daily shot of news and a recap of the best longer reads and videos.

Lego admits refusing artist Ai Weiwei bricks for exhibition was a ‘mistake’

Lego’s chairman said it was a "mistake" to refuse Chinese artist and political activist Ai Weiwei’s request for a bulk order of its bricks to create art for an Australian exhibition last year. 

The toy company’s decision resulted in an outcry on social media in October, after Ai Weiwei revealed he was turned down because his work was deemed too political.

Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, Lego vice chairman and grandson of its founder, told the Wall Street Journal the request was rejected "very low in the organization by our consumer service department".

He claims the employee misinterpreted a policy on political neutrality, and Lego’s board was not involved.

"It was an internal mistake,’’ said Kristiansen. "It is a typical example of what can go wrong in a big company." 

Ai Weiwei welcomed the statement, but believes it has taken a long time to come. 

"I think it’s positive but I think they recognized it a bit too late," he said. "I have to respond to this incident because it is about freedom of expression. The Lego company has such a strong influence on every child so I think it’s not an issue to be ignored."

Source: Wall Street Journal

Amazon reports most profitable quarter ever

Amazon reported better-than-expected profits for its first quarter as profits surged to $513m for the first three months of 2016, up from a $57m loss compared to the same period last year.

It represents Amazon’s most profitable quarter ever and its fourth straight profitable quarter.

The ecommerce giant sold $29.1bn worth of goods and services, up 28% from a year ago. Spending rose by a similar amount as it seeks to build its own shipping service to compete with companies such as UPS. 

Founder Jeff Bezos revealed the firm sold twice as many Fire tablets compared to the first quarter last year and claims the Echo personal assistant device is "off to an incredible start, and we can’t yet manage to keep it in stock despite all efforts".

Chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said the company is also considering offering a monthly Amazon Prime option because the yearly charge "is a hurdle for many people".

Source: The Guardian

Economic uncertainty clouds consumer confidence

The GfK consumer confidence index has dropped into negative territory for the first time in 15 months due to uncertainty over the impact of Brexit.

GfK head of market dynamics Joe Staton said: "Mixed messages about a post-Brexit world and the on-going Eurozone crisis are casting a cloud over our economy.

"Against this backdrop, even faith in our personal economic fortunes has taken a battering contributing to the overall fall in the numbers. Trends in confidence show our degree of optimism about the state of the economy and this indicator will make for interesting reading between now and the EU referendum on June 23rd."

The biggest dent in confidence comes from respondents’ being downbeat about the general economic situation in the UK with that measure down 20 points compared to this time last year.

Source: GfK

Catch up with some of our longer reads...

Creativity is a serious business: from shape-shifting cars to creating compelling content

As Marketing explores creativity and design in its April issue, editor Rachel Barnes discusses what creativity means in the digital age and why we should all embrace these "disruptive, messy, exciting and sometimes uncomfortable and challenging" times.

Mary Portas: creativity is about finding a brand's essence and expressing it in a powerful way

The queen of the high street discusses how advertising was the last thing on her mind when designing the retail experience.

Have a listen to the Marketing Mind podcast...

Domino's head of digital Nick Dutch, and Iris' head of planning Ben Essen join the podcast to talk about their experiences at SXSW, discussing everything from capitalism as a valid economic model to whether marketers can ever ethically use brainwave-reading headsets.

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