Thursday, August 15, 2013

Per Hjuler

Per Hjuler
Senior Vice President-Innovation & Consumer Marketing
The LEGO Group

Per Hjuler is a 15-year veteran of LEGO, which means he has seen some ups and downs during his tenure that the Danish company created by Ole Kirk Christiansen whose founding value was “only the best.”  Per played a key role in associating LEGO with innovation at a critical time in the company’s history.  Last year, LEGO, with essentially one iconic brand, became the world’s second-largest toymaker, after Mattel—despite nearly facing bankruptcy in 2003.  Since then, LEGO has reoriented itself to become wildly successful again, thanks in part to Per Hjuler.

He modestly describes his role at the company as encompassing strategy, leadership, product & marketing development, global launch campaigns- including digital marketing, and business development.  However, in the book Brick by Brick by David Robertson and Bill Breen that looks at the role innovation played in both LEGO’s crisis and the recovery, it’s clear that his insights made a significance difference to the company, as noted in this short excerpt from the book:

“Having defined the different areas of innovation that LEGO would pursue, the working group also recognized that ‘innovation’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘radical’—that, in fact, different opportunities require varying degrees of innovativeness. The new model spotlighted three different approaches to marshaling the kinds of change that would help LEGO advance its goals. The first, simplest type of innovation was to adjust existing toys—that is, to freshen up an evergreen line so that it attracts news waves of kids without adding significantly more development and manufacturing costs. … Senior vice president Per Hjuler captured the attitude of many LEGO managers when he asserted, ‘I am continually humbled by the power of the little idea.’”

LEGO, whose name comes from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means "play well," began manufacturing interlocking toy bricks in 1949, and all pieces, regardless of variety, constitute a universal system. Despite variation in the design and purpose of individual pieces over the years, current pieces remain compatible with pieces from the past in that they continue to interlock.  Sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers.

Since those early years, a global LEGO subculture has developed, supporting movies, games, competitions, and six themed amusement parks. As of 2013, around 560 billion LEGO parts have been produced.

Prior to his LEGO career, Per Hjuler worked at a number of Danish companies in product marketing roles, including Dandy, as the International Marketing Director on the Stimorol chewing gum brand, as well as Dansk Supermarkets, Arla Foods and Merrild Kaffe, owned by Sara Lee Corp.

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