Ai Weiwei aftermath: Lego changes policy on bulk sales after backlash from buyers

Good news for Lego lovers. They have done away with the policy where if a buyer wanted to make a bulk purchase, they would have to tell the company the purpose of their purchase.

This change in policy comes after Chinese artist Ai Weiwei had accused the Danish company of refusing a bulk order on political grounds in October 2015.

Ai Weiwei aftermath: Lego changes policy on bulk sales after backlash from buyers

Representational image. Reuters

The toy became embroiled in controversy when Weiwei, who used the bricks to create portraits of political activists from around the world for a US exhibition in 2014, said the firm had told him it would not sell directly to users with "political" intentions.

This had created a huge uproar on social media. People from across the world had sent Weiwei Lego blocks with which he was able to complete his project.

According to BBC, he ended up  "using bricks donated to him by the public for an exhibition in Melbourne, Australia".

Announcing the change of policy, Lego announced on its website on Tuesday:

"The LEGO Group has adjusted the guidelines for sales of LEGO® bricks in very large quantities.

Previously, when asked to sell very large quantities of LEGO® bricks for projects, the LEGO Group has asked about the thematic purpose of the project. This has been done, as the purpose of the LEGO Group is to inspire children through creative play, not to actively support or endorse specific agendas of individuals or organizations.However, those guidelines could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent, and the LEGO Group has therefore adjusted the guidelines for sales of LEGO bricks in very large quantities.

As of January 1st, the LEGO Group no longer asks for the thematic purpose when selling large quantities of LEGO bricks for projects. Instead, the customers will be asked to make it clear - if they intend to display their LEGO creations in public - that the LEGO Group does not support or endorse the specific projects."

Earlier, after the public backlash over Weiwei, Lego had told Guardian, "As a company dedicated to delivering great creative play experiences to children, we refrain – on a global level – from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda. This principle is not new."

An op-ed in the Chinese edition of the Global Times, affiliated with the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, had praised Lego for "refusing to be implicated in a political statement" and being motivated by "good business sense".

Weiwei has been targeted by authorities for his advocacy of democracy and human rights as well as other criticisms, including the aftermath of the deadly Sichuan earthquake in 2008.

He was detained for 81 days in 2011 and subsequently placed under house arrest, with his passport taken away. The document was only returned in July this year, enabling him to travel to Europe.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 13, 2016 13:38:53 IST

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