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Aidan White

Published: 13 February 2013

Country: UK

by Aidan White

lego pg 3Lego has ended a partnership with The Sun newspaper after online protests by anti-Page 3 campaigners who generated a wave of condemnation over the toymaker’s links with a paper that defiantly continues to publish nude pin-ups, despite growing unease that this tawdry feature of tabloid newspapers has definitely passed its sell-by date.

The Guardian reports that this decision by the Danish company, whose global brand is known to hundreds of millions of parents and children worldwide, is being seen as a victory by campaigners against press sexism.

In particular, for Steve Grout, who launched an online petition to protest over Lego’s involvement with The Sun when his two young sons aged seven and nine started asking him to buy the paper because Lego was offering free toys to readers.

"My kids started on at me, saying 'I wanna buy the Sun',” he told The Guardian “It sowed a seed in their mind that the Sun is linked to toys, but I don't want my kids to see a naked woman in the newspaper."

His petition launched on the activists’ web-site Change.org touched a nerve and attracted more than 12,000 signatures in less than two weeks.

Although Lego denied that its move to sever links with the Sun was linked to the protest, a senior executive has acknowledged concerns about its association with Page 3 in an email to campaigners. A company spokeswoman said recent promotion in the Sun was part of a two-year agreement which started in 2011 as part of a marketing strategy and has now ended.

Although The Sun put a brave face on the move – "It has been a fruitful relationship for both partners… We hope to work with Lego again in the future," they said – the decision by Lego to make a clean break with the newspaper suggests that the protests have had an impact.

Certainly, the rapid and powerful response to the protest petition will encourage campaigners to focus on other companies with a “family image” who set up marketing deals with the newspaper.

Steve Grout’s petition was launched on 22 February, and was signed by thousands of supporters when a Lego promotion appeared next to a spread featuring the naked breasts of 12 Hollywood actors, including Kate Winslet and Penelope Cruz. Grout followed up the petition with further protests outside the Sun's headquarters in Wapping, East London, and at the Legoland theme park near Windsor.

His success will encourage other campaigns, such as the anti-Page 3 petition, supported by the radio presenter Lauren Laverne and comedian and actor Jennifer Saunders, which has gathered almost 84,000 signatures on Change.org.


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