How LEGO was named the ‘best company in the world’ in social media by an 11-year old autistic fan


How do you get called the ‘best company in the world’ by your customers in social media?

Every company wants people to talk great things about it. Every brand wants to shine in the media. Billions are spent in self-praise on advertising.

Companies I consult with for digital strategy want to become social media stars overnight. Everyone wants a viral hit.

But what does it take to create authentic brand stories that your fans compelled to tell about you? Listening to your fans and caring for them is one of the key factors.

Recently, a great example of customer service and caring by LEGO worked wonders for it in social media.

James Groccia, an 11-year-old from Massachusetts with Asperger’s syndrome, had saved his money for two years to buy a Lego Emerald Night Train set only to discover that it has been discontinued. The train set became a collector’s item by the time James saved up money to buy it, going way beyond his reach. James’ parents sent this letter to LEGO to see if they could help:

Dear Sirs,

My name is James Groccia and I am 10 years old. I have been playing with many Lego sets and products since I was about 4 years old. I have brick sets, Hero Factory, Creationary, Lunar Limo and more. I participate in a Lego Playgroup to help with my Social Skills (I have Asperger’s Syndrome) and I love playing with Legos at home (I play with them every day).

A couple of years ago, I saw The Emerald Night Train set (K10194) and fell in love with it. I wanted it right away, but my parents said I had to save the money to get it. For two years I kept all the money I got for birthday and holiday gifts, some of my allowance and some money I got for participating in a research project. At last, a couple of months ago I had my $100 and was ready to buy the Lego set of my dreams!

My mom started looking for it on line and could not find any. We checked the Lego store in our area and they didn’t have it either. I was completely crushed. You’ve stopped making it! It seems the only way to get one now is to pay $250 on Amazon or ebay, since now it is considered collectible.

I got another Lego set, thinking I could forget about the Emerald Night, but every time I see it anywhere on line I get very sad and disappointed. I still want the Emerald Night so badly, but there are none to be found.

Do you have any at your corporate headquarters? Perhaps I could get one that way? If you have any other ideas, I would be happy to hear them. I have never wanted a Lego set so badly ever in my life!

Your most loyal Lego fan,

James G. Groccia

The family received a response from the company expressing sadness at the situation and listing a few places where discontinued LEGO sets could be found. The letter also requested a little more information.

The big surprise came around the little boys’ birthday. He received another letter and a box from LEGO. This is how the second LEGO letter read:

Dear James,

We are always thrilled to hear from our LEGO fans! You truly have a passion and joy for LEGO. I am amazed at how many sets you have at
only ten years old! I am a very big LEGO fan myself and enjoy some of the same sets you do. We received your letter here in Consumer Services and were very touched by your determination.

The Emerald Night Train is a wonderful set, so we can understand why it is your dream to own it. I commend your willpower and patience to save money for over two years just to purchase this set. It is very evident that no other set could make you happier. We can understand how disappointing it must have been to find it had been discontinued. Due to your passion for LEGO and your heart-warming letter, we knew we had to go above and beyond to help make this a reality.

We have located an Emerald Night Train for you, James, and included it in this package! I am sure you will enjoy building it and cherish your time playing with the train. We are excited to know that we could help make this dream come true for you! Now there will be no more sadness or disappointment when you think about it …just happiness!

We hope you will continue to love to build and create with LEGO. Fans like you are why we are so lucky as a company. Who knows, maybe you will be working for The LEGO Group one day! You certainly have the heart and passion for our bricks to do so! Happy building, James!


Consumer Services Advisor

James parents filmed the young LEGO fan’s reaction on receiving his gift from LEGO – he also reads out the letter from the company in it.

This video is now on YouTube and has more than 1.5 million views. And it hasn’t just renewed the faith of LEGO fans worldwide and endeared the non-fans to the company, people who work for LEGO are touched to – with one of the top comments being: “Things like this make me proud to work for the LEGO Group” (InvaderJim42)

What can we learn from this rare display of listening and responding to customers – going the extra mile to touch a fan’s heart? How can brands struggling to go ‘viral’ in social media take this as a good example?

How LEGO became the ‘Best Company in the World’ in social media – the learnings

Lego best company in the world james

1. You don’t need a very big budget to show customers you care – a $100 train set and a will to go beyond a canned response achieved more than a million dollar campaign could. The video forced me to read up on LEGO and its history. And fall in love with the company. It’s not the money that matters but the fact that you listen.
2. You don’t need to reward and bribe your customers to say great things about you – try being nice and compassionate instead. If you make an extra effort to serve your fans, the news will travel. Just like bad news does.
3. Customer service comes before social media publicity – if you don’t have a stellar customer service taking care of people well, no amount of social media will help. It is best to integrate customer service with social media – this loop happened through letters but could have also happened through social channels – and faster.
4. Being a brand that cares for its fans isn’t just great for the fans – it’s great for your people too!
5. The spirit of the founders and management is reflected in the spirit of a company’s people too.

After watching the YouTube video made by James’ parents, I looked up the Lego story and found its origins very inspiring – starting with why the company was named ‘LEGO’.

How have you been treated by the brands that you admire? Have you ever been served very well and shared your experience in social media? comments welcome…

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  1. Touched. Really touched.. Btw thanks Farrukh to the wonderful compilation. It has compelled me to love Lego myself. When there are true hearts there are always great ways that will inspire the world. I believe if all business start leading this way we would experience the best of the world.

    Thanks once again


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