Case story: BIONICLE

The Digest

With BIONICLE, we helped LEGO successfully re-imagine its definition of a construction toy theme, creating a breakout hit that helped to revive the company at a critical time in its history.

The Details

Change is never easy for big companies. So when we told LEGO that it needed to fundamentally rethink a product launch we were not overly hopeful they would listen. But they did. And the result was BIONICLE, the company’s first Intellectual Property and one if its standout commercial successes of the past 50 years.

BIONICLE teaser poster (2001, left), and Bohrok teaser poster (2002):

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BIONICLE launch poster (2001, left), and Toa Nuva launch poster (2002):

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Instead of a classic launch-and-leave product line, we wanted the products to represent the characters in a dramatic story arc that would be played out across a broad media mix. If we could achieve this we knew we would be building the capacity for narrative and commercial growth into the franchise.

Early concept sketch - Mata Nui dormant robot under the island (1999):

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Concept sketches - Mata Nui and Toa canister (1999):


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The three main locations - Mata Nui, Metru Nui, Voya Nui:


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The creation of an epic visual universe centred on the archetypal battle between good and evil also gave BIONICLE a strong emotional element. Boys were instantly drawn into the story, helping to secure loyal and lasting relationships with the brand.

TV commercial - Piraka launch (2006):

TV commercial - Inika heroes (2006):

BIONICLE was a truly integrated and multilayered brand experience that evolved throughout its ten-year duration. While its built-in collectability and portability were two key elements in its success, it was the narrative that helped retain its popularity for so long. Even as the original fans grew older, and were joined by new fans all the time, BIONICLE continued to grow with them.

Mata Nui rising (2008):

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The first 8 years of the BIONICLE story told in 4 minutes:

The rise of Mata Nui (2008):

BIONICLE’s achievements

Brought LEGO over 85% more in sales than budgeted in its first year.

Winner of the 2002 Advertising Effectiveness Award.

Named in Berlingske as one of the eight boldest business leadership decisions of the decade (2000-2010).

Earned LEGO its first placement in the top 5 of the American toy industry list.