The Mario Bros Lego’s marketing tactics are plumbing new depths | Emma Kay

Is the way we advertise toys to children going too far? Or maybe it has always gone too far but is steadily worsening by each passing year?

By Emma Kay
Friday, 14th May 2021, 9:48 am
Mario and Yoshi toy figures from the Lego Super Mario series. Picture by Shutterstock
Mario and Yoshi toy figures from the Lego Super Mario series. Picture by Shutterstock

Lego and Nintendo have teamed up to create an electronic Mario, the iconic red and blue plumber, now produced in Lego brick beauty.

But unlike the indifferent faces of a typical Lego toy, Mario’s eyes and mouth have been digitally rendered, allowing him to show emotion and chat to your child. It seems the perfect blend of Lego and video game.

However, there is something rather disturbing about this toy. This electronic makeover also comes with another feature. It can receive updates beamed to the toy and directly to your child with the latest being Mario woefully crying out that his famous brother Luigi is ‘missing’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Lego is planning a new range of the Super Mario expansion sets this summer, including Luigi figurines. So yes, this toy is unashamedly advertising and upselling a new product directly to your child away from parents’ prying eyes.

However a big a fan you are of either company, you should be at least mildly concerned that they are using a beloved icon like Mario in such a manner to make sales.

Children should not be targets to be exploited by a company’s greedy whims. Yet here we are, with toys sneakily talking to your children that does nothing more than persuade them to cajole their parents that they must have Luigi. Such poor taste to project this during playtime, where they should be free from the bombardment of advertisements.

Children have the right to be children. We should be very wary and acknowledge this is a pretty messed up toy promotion. It is downright maddeningly manipulative to use a toy to emotionally provoke a child into buying its ‘brother’.

Kids develop deep bonds with their toys and are highly impressionable. They may have a favourite doll or teddy bear that they take everywhere with them. Children develop a huge connection to things we may only consider plastic playthings. But the feelings they project onto their toys are very high, some may even consider their toys to be alive, projecting a huge a sense importance to their toys. Just imagine if you were a child who loved and adored your Lego Mario toy when suddenly, it starts calling out desperately for its lost brother. How would you feel? It is downright sickening and despicable to do this to a child.

There is nothing more interactive than a children’s imagination at the end of the day. We cannot allow companies to continuously exploit them like this all for the sake of leveraging a product onto some of our most vulnerable consumers.

Automated cars

Why do so many of us fear an autonomous driving future? Our world is forever changing and moving forward in a technological turbine. It is human error that contributes most to the high cost, both financially and injurious, of road accidents.

Self-driving car sceptics shrug off these technological advances. But they need to look at the bigger picture.

Automated driving systems will reduce the highest cause of road accidents, human error. Road rage will be a cage we are no longer controlled by. Can you imagine driving to work and having the time to think before the hectic day sets in?

People will be able to travel more without the stress of motorway madness. You will be able to go much further without being impaired by your ability to drive. The old, the disabled, or those too fearful to drive because of others actions, will no longer be left behind.

‘Love Is Not Tourism’

Covid has cut into us like a knife. Feeling the love of kinfolk during a pandemic is nothing short of a miracle. Fenced-off families are a distressing normality not only in the UK but across our borders too.

We are all too quick to judge those yearning to travel as mere tourist wishes. Travel restrictions separate families and partners causing severe consequences to mental health.

Movements such as ‘Love is Not Tourism’ is a global network of over 47,000 people campaigning to help reunite families and couples who have been forcibly separated by the travel ban. This charity offers self-paid tests on arrival, and strict quarantine and all in the name of love.

Giving people the border brush-off and labelling them as greedy for wanting to travel undermines the pain and individual concerns of others who are struggling to cope and feeling a deep sense of loss and seclusion.