Germany - the gateway to Europe
Wir bauen eine Stadt
The first campaign concentrates on the city of Hamburg, supported by a commercial “Wir bauen eine Stadt” (“We’re building a city”) which runs in cinemas. A special strategy is applied to force through the LEGO Group sales policy: direct sales to the retail trade, with everyone paying the same price. This is not something the German trade is accustomed to. Godtfred Kirk wants LEGO products to be sold only to those retailers who are prepared to display the bricks in the shop window or in shop. It is important to Godtfred Kirk that customers are introduced to the products and know what they can be used for.
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen’s belief that conquering the German toy market can allow the company to capture the world is to prove true. In the period 1956-1958 the LEGO Group sets up sales offices in Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Italy and Portugal – with organizations already operating in Norway, Sweden and Iceland.
The LEGO Group makes great headway in the 1960s. It has its eye on the rest of the world. In the words of Godtfred Kirk Christiansen: “There are only two options: Forwards or back. Standing still is like slipping backwards. We must all do our bit – and grow in the process. It’s the route to even greater results.” To Godtfred Kirk international success is important. Germany, in his book the most important toy market, has already been conquered. For LEGO products to be an international success, Godtfred Kirk believes it is important they are not marketed as specifically Danish. Germans should preferably perceive them as German, French shoppers as French, etc.
In 1961, the LEGO Group licensed an American luggage company, Shwayder, to produce and sell LEGO products in the US and Canada. Under the agreement the LEGO Group supplied machinery, moulds and other equipment, while Shwayder handled production and sales. In 1965, Shwayder changed its name to Samsonite.