Who: Canadian Paralympic Committee, with BBDO for creative and strategy, and Flare BBDO Toronto for production.
What: The “ParaExpansion Pack,” 11 Lego mini-figure prototypes representing people with disabilities.
When & Where: The tiny toys have been introduced for the start of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, and are an extension of a larger advertising campaign that launched last month (see below).
Why: This year’s Paralympics are receiving prime time broadcast coverage for the first time, and CPC said it wanted to mark the occasion with a statement about the importance of inclusion and representation. The CPC and BBDO don’t mention Lego by name, instead saying that “one of the world’s most beloved building toys” has never reflected parasports before (although the company did introduce a young wheelchair user in 2016).
“For us, inclusion has always been fundamental,” said the CPC’s executive director of communication and brand, Martin Richard, in a release. “The Expansion Pack helps broaden the awareness of that inclusivity and celebrate Paralympic athletes.”
How: The little Legos aren’t actually available, but nine different special pieces—such as a prosthetic leg or race wheelchair—can be 3D printed for use with other standard Lego sets. There’s also a promotional video, and social media is being used to spread the idea of more inclusive Lego figures. The video and downloadable 3D printing instructions can be found at a special Expansion Pack landing page on the CPC website.
“It’s about giving these competitors their due, not just as athletes but as icons of popular culture,” said BBDO’s chief creative officer, Max Geraldo. “In its own small way, the Para Expansion Pack helps them take their place as stars.”
The advertising campaign: Launched in late July, the “We’re Here” advertising (also by BBDO) shows three Canadian Paralympians—wheelchair basketball star Patrick Anderson, gold medal-winning Para swimmer Katarina Roxon, and Para ice hockey team captain Tyler McGregor—receiving the kind of attention and spotlight that many other athletes receive. The three are swarmed by media, adored by fans, have streets named after them, books written about them, appear on magazine covers—and have Lego figurines created for them.
“We have moved from needing to educate and spread awareness about the Paralympic Games themselves, to amplifying the profiles of individual athletes,” said Martin Richard, the CPC’s executive director, communications and brand, when the campaign was launched. “Canada’s Paralympians are some of the best athletes in the country and incredible role models who can make a real cultural impact, and should receive attention, accolades, endorsement deals, and success both within the sport world and beyond.”