Lego says the suspension of promotional campaigns for its building-block sets of the White House and law enforcement officers and equipment, a move that flummoxed avid customers, was meant to demonstrate respect amid nationwide protests over the death of a black man in police custody.
An e-mail directive from Rakuten Linkshare, which handles Lego's affiliate marketing, indicated that over 30 Lego toys representing police officers, firefighters, criminals, emergency vehicles and buildings were to be removed from "sites and any marketing ASAP," according to an e-mail obtained by The Toy Book.
The e-mail cited "recent events" as the cause and didn't specify how long the products shouldn't be promoted.
The order came after more than a week of protests spanning from coast to coast, some peaceful and others violent, condemning police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd.
The latest in an array of black people to die in police custody in recent years, Floyd was being detained May 25 by a white Minneapolis officer who has since been charged with murder. The three other officers on the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter
While some police officers nationwide have supported protestors, the demonstrations have also created a division between reform advocates and law enforcement supporters who say all officers shouldn't be blamed for the actions of a few.
Questions from Lego aficionados on fan sites, raised against that backdrop, prompted the company to attempt to clarify its intentions. The company said it has not halted sales of any of the products it stopped promoting.
"The misunderstanding is the result of an email that was sent on our behalf to members of our affiliate marketing programme," a spokesperson for Lego told FOX Business. "The intent of the email was to ask that they pause promoting and marketing a selection of LEGO products on their sites."
The company had suspended all marketing across its own social channels earlier this week.
Lego says it regrets any misunderstanding and "will ensure that we are clearer about our intentions in the future.”
The company says its mission is to "inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, and that includes inspiring them to be tolerant, inclusive and kind."
To support that goal, the toymaker announced it was donating $4 million to organizations dedicated to helping black children and educating all children about racial inequality.
"We stand with the black community against racism and racial inequality. There is much to do," the company tweeted.