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LEGO Hidden Side
Toys & Technology: LEGO's Hidden Side Takes Korea by Storm
Cover Story
Contributed By LEGO Korea
Today digitalization is high on everyone’s agenda. With no exception also the LEGO Group. The World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of kindergarten children today will have jobs that don’t yet exist. The only way children will succeed in this uncertain future is to have universal skills such as creativity, problem-solving, resilience and collaboration – skills developed from the earliest age.

Ensuring children can achieve their potential is what drives everyone at the LEGO Group. Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow – now, and for generations to come.
Building toys with AR technology
One of this year’s big bets for the LEGO Group is the new Augmented Reality (AR) based LEGO Hidden Side. Launched in the beginning of August 2019, the new theme got off to a flyer in Korea. In just one month, sales increased 400% since its launch and ranked first among all APAC markets.
LEGO Hidden Side is a creative building toy, tech toy and AR game all rolled into one. Kids can build a multi-layered model, then use a free interactive Augmented Reality(AR) app to hunt and trap ghosts.
With the app, the tablet or smartphone device becomes a ghost detector that kids can use to catch and battle ghosts among other activities.

This innovative new play experience, however, carried some challenges. Kids couldn’t pre-experience them at stores or online until an actual purchase of a LEGO Hidden Side set.
The magic of tryvertising
Tryvertising played a big role in the successful launch of LEGO Hidden Side in Korea. “We quickly realized that it wasn’t enough just to talk about it or show it. We invested in in-store tryvertising in 50 major hyper and retail stores including LEGO Certified Stores to get it in the hands of our key audience – children. This really paid off,” explains Michael.

The Korean team also teamed up with influencers to create a buzz around LEGO Hidden Side – with hauntingly good results. One influencer’s YouTube video about LEGO Hidden Side got more than 1.4 million views, and Korea’s app download share was 8 percent of total global downloads in the first 2 months.
Changing the normal perception
Michael Ebbesen, General Manager of LEGO Korea is confident that new thinking like tryvertising will see the LEGO Hidden Side ghosts take over the rest of the world like they have Korea. “With LEGO Hidden Side we’re targeting 9-12 year-olds, which is a difficult age group for us as a company. This requires a different approach to all the creative material and media planning. Showing the AR experience through tryvertising initiatives is important to change the normal perception of what you can expect from a LEGO product, and it has had a very positive impact on consumers in markets like Italy, Europe Central and of course Korea. So, this is something we’ll dial up,” said Michael.
CEO of the LEGO Group Niels B. Christiansen
Traditional methods such as commercials, ads, and banners won’t cut it. So we had to come up with new approaches to truly engage kids,
recalls General Manager of LEGO Korea Michael Ebbesen .
General Manager of LEGO Korea Michael Ebbesen with Korean partner Hye-jin Lee
To inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow backed by a consistent focus on product quality and safety is what drives innovation at the LEGO Group. During a recent visit to Korea, Niels B. Christiansen, CEO of the LEGO Group emphasized the importance of innovation.
“Innovation plays a key role. Innovation based on a simple yet brilliant platform: The LEGO System in Play. The LEGO brick enabled us to put play into a system – a system that allows for endless customization and innovation. Based on the LEGO System, we change about 60% of our product portfolio every year – which requires a lot of innovation across all our departments. It is what keeps the LEGO system relevant and fun for children – and we push ourselves every year to take the LEGO building and play experience to a new level – competing with ourselves every year to reinvent what you can do with the bricks – physically and in the digital world,” said Niels.
Innovation at the forefront
LEGO Hidden Side Ghost Train Express
LEGO Hidden Side Paranormal Intercept Bus 3000
He added “As a company, we have always embraced new technologies and seen them as opportunities for creating great experiences for children. I firmly believe that the LEGO brick and the physical play experience is here to stay – but we will continue to see digital layers enhancing the physical play, as children navigate seamlessly between the physical and digital world. A prime example is LEGO Hidden side, which we launched this year, where Augmented Reality (AR) is used to create a digital layer on top of the LEGO model.”

LEGO Hidden Side is not the first LEGO set where digital meets the physical brick. The LEGO Group started a collaboration with the MIT Media Lab in the 1980s, which resulted in the first programmable LEGO products in the form of LEGO MINDSTORMS setting the foundation for how the LEGO Group looks at new technologies and integrate them into the LEGO play experiences. Today, the LEGO Group offers a variety of digital experiences – from movies, videogames, apps to coding and programming – all the way from LEGO Duplo for the youngest to LEGO Hidden Side using augmented reality (AR) to enhance the play experience. Niels emphasized, “Children are digital natives and our long-term commitment to being a relevant bridge between the physical and digital world has been and continues to be very important. As we all know, we have the best critics of all: children!”
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