Cannes Lions

Out of Thin Air

INITIATIVE, London / LEGO / 2021

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Case Film
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LEGO’s holiday campaigns are legendary, but also highly pressured – the fourth quarter accounts for up to 40% of the toy brands annual revenue. Crucial to a successful Christmas is giving kids a chance to get hands on with LEGO. So, as with every year we had a single-minded objective – drive trial during the pre-Christmas shopping excursion to convert excitement into sales.

Except, this year we had an unavoidable barrier – how can we put the joy of play in kids hands, when they aren’t allowed to touch anything?

At the heart of the LEGO brand is imagination and we knew we would have to use just that if we were going to maintain LEGO’s presence in the hearts (and hands) of kids during a Christmas like no other.


The out of home escape: With home-schooling, home-working, and constant home-entertaining that comes with lockdown, parents were turning to COVID sanctioned excursions with their kids to inject some imagination into the monotony. We had to give them a new and memorable outdoor excursion.

Tech teachers: Kids have never been more tuned into technology, and this has only been accelerated by lockdown with their school work done via home-video calls, and socialising through gaming platforms. It takes a lot for new tech to impress them. If we were to harness technology to overcome this challenge, we needed to delight them with an entirely new experience.

Rebuild the World: LEGO’s brand platform is all about igniting the imagination of kids to build a better world, whichever way they dream it.

The Opportunity: Turn precious family-time outside into a moment for kids to experience LEGO through technology even they have never seen before.


We partnered with experts in integrated technologies Ocean Labs, a unit within Ocean Outdoor, to build an innovative touch-free play experience. Using Ultrahaptics technology, we transformed a traditionally one-way medium (outdoor) by replacing touchscreen devices with an interface that uses ultrasound pressurised air to create sensations on the human hand. We mapped real LEGO sets into the system to simulate the exact sensation of each brick as a unique air sequence that adjusts and evolves based on hand gestures. Creating a fully interactive LEGO set out of nothing but air.

When kids interacted with the experience, their natural hand movements in response to these haptic air sequences were tracked by motion sensor cameras to visualise the bricks they were feeling on a giant digital billboard site. This allowed the kids to visualise and control their creations without ever touching a single brick, and passers-by to marvel as it happened!


This was a triumph of creativity over limitations which was saw more than 350 kids build their very own mid-air creations – with over 40,000 spectators to share in the joy.

The activation inspired a further seven million people who were able to marvel at the builds through social media.

By the end of the year, LEGO had achieved its most successful quarterly sales, resulting in a +14% YoY sales growth and helping cement LEGO as the most loved brand in the world.

All this with zero physical contact, offering children a safe way to experience a 60-year-old brick in a an entirely new way.

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