Lego changes approach to big orders after Ai Weiwei uproar

Posted at 8:02 AM, Jan 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 08:02:54-05

No questions asked.

That’s Lego’s new approach to big orders after it came under fire in October for refusing to supply its bricks to Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

An outspoken critic of Chinese authorities, Ai slammed the Danish toymaker for its unwillingness to sell him the bricks he needed for an exhibition in Australia, calling it “an act of censorship and discrimination.”

Lego explained at the time that it refrained “from actively engaging in or endorsing the use of Lego bricks in projects or contexts of a political agenda.”

Ai argued that the toymaker had its own political motivations, pointing out recently announced plans to build a Legoland park in Shanghai. His supporters rallied to the cause, showering the artist’s social media accounts with criticism of Lego.

Now, the company has decided to change tack.

In a statement late Tuesday, it acknowledged that its previous approach “could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent.”

Since the start of the year, Lego says it has stopped asking people ordering very large amounts of its bricks what they plan to do with them.

Instead, it’s asking anyone intending to display the bricks in public to make it clear that Lego doesn’t “support or endorse” the project.

Ai appeared to welcome the toymaker’s new stance.

During the outcry in October, he posted an Instagram photo of Lego bricks in a toilet bowl.

But on Wednesday, he shared a photo of himself with bricks dangling from his hair, mustache and eyebrows. The caption was simply a smiling emoji.