Last week, journalist Josh Stearns blogged about some LEGO stickers he recently saw while looking for a present for his son. Stearns stated that he was "stunned" when he realized one of the stickers in a construction worker sticker pack had a worker in sunglasses saying, "Hey babe!" He took it as a form of street harassment toward women and bemoaned the path LEGO has recently taken with their brand.
Nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment (SSH) picked up the story and spread it on social media, pointing out that street harassment does not just come from construction workers and that it can often be more serious than a simple "hey babe!" From the SSH blog post:
Street harassment is normalized in our society, in part because it is regularly portrayed as a compliment, a joke, or no big deal in kids’ cartoons, television shows, comedy routines, movies, commercials, product packaging, and even in kids toys, like these stickers by Lego that are aimed at kids, particularly boys.
Now, LEGO has responded to Stearns' cat-calling criticism, distancing itself from the content seen on the stickers. In an email sent to the journalist, a LEGO PR rep stated that the stickers were actually designed by Creative Imagination, a company that shut down at the end of 2012. It is also revealed that the stickers in question were discontinued in 2010.
Though the stickers may have been discontinued, they can still be found for purchase online, including through Amazon.
Stearns found LEGO's response to be rather bland, and followed up with the company. His concerns finally got some real attention late last week as LEGO's head of Outbound Licensing contacted Stearns, stating that LEGO "would not approve such a product again."
LEGO has recently been designing and marketing toy sets specifically to girls. The company's 'LEGO Friends' playsets have become a big hit, causing the company to focus more on girls as LEGO customers.