Products of Change


Fri 17 Mar 2023 | by Rob Hutchins

Friday Thoughts | Learning Circles

Given just how close the brand and licensing industry has grown to Comic Relief over the past few decades, I fully expect this week’s Friday email to land amongst teams of industry executives now each adjusting their Red Noses accordingly in celebration of today’s special event – Red Nose Day. Our industry has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with this day of mirth that has built ever-stronger over the years, reflecting not only the power of the brands and the IP we work with to drive positive actions among audiences but also the purpose – and responsibility – with which our favourite brands so often operate. This year, it’s the turn of the Mr Men and Little Miss brand to cosy up with the day of the big red conk and front the 2023 official Comic Relief Red Nose Day t-shirt and apparel collection. The TK Maxx collection – supported by a wonderful collection of celebrities including none other than Julia Roberts – has been developed to support Comic Relief’s vital work helping children and young people facing the toughest times of their lives here in the UK and around the world. It's an annual campaign that our industry’s allegiance with can leave everyone involved feeling incredibly proud. Partnerships with purpose don’t often come much more driven than this one – and to date, since TK Maxx first partnered with the charity in 2005, it has gone on to raise over £30 million to help organisations and change-makers closest to the communities trapped in poverty. You’ve likely also noticed that this year’s Red Noses are in fact made from paper and minimal plastic – an indication of just how aware we are becoming to the environmental issues that plight us today. It’s really rather incredible just how much the consumer products industry wants to learn more about sustainability now. Compared to even just a couple of short years ago, the strive for knowledge and understanding is wonderfully encouraging. Over 200 Products of Change members have now completed the Introduction to Sustainability course on the platform, which is fantastic. We highly encourage everyone to engage with the educational resources we host on the platform. The more we can all understand the issues at hand, the better equipped we all are to take those next steps towards sustainable development.

The Circular Packaging Design Course brought together a snapshot of cross-category collaboration with attendees from Paramount, Mattel, Warner Bros, Addo Play, Inside Out Toys, TDP Textiles, Robert Welch, Talking Tables, and FOCO working through ideas together.
We’ve been building out our educational offering over the past year, here at Products of Change and can proudly say that to date we have delivered five Sustainability 101 courses, one Circular Economy 101 course, and one intensive Circular Packaging Design Course, the face-to-face workshop element for which we held this week in London. Led by Products of Change’s Ambassador for Packaging, Mike Swain – an expert boasting 30 years’ experience in the packaging industry – the course has been hailed a great success by attendees who joined us for a two-day course split over two weeks. An online session geared everyone with a foundational understanding of the circular economy, while the full-day workshop, held at the Informa Offices in Central London this week – put all that knowledge into the context of packaging design and how to begin the shift towards better circularity. Thank you so much to our wonderful course attendees – a real snapshot of the cross-industry collaboration that Products of Change is all about driving – it was great to see individuals from the likes of Paramount, Mattel, Warner Bros, Addo Play, Inside Out Toys, TDP Textiles, Talking Tables, Robert Welch, and FOCO engaging with the education on hand and the feedback so far has been highly motivating. We really are an industry on the precipice of major, positive change. It was nice to have that reaffirmed this week, too, when the Products of Change Ambassadors gathered online for the latest Ambassadors Meeting. We took the chance to introduce our newest Ambassadors in Steve Plackett, MD of Carousel Calendars (Ambassador for Net Zero), Duncan Shearer, client services director at Seymour Distribution (Ambassador for Paper) and Jakob Max Hamann of the LEGO Group, (our new Ambassador for Legislation) and learn about the latest work being done across each sector in the pursuit of sustainable development industry-wide. We’d like to say a big, big thank you to all our wonderful Ambassadors for pushing this conversation forwards across all your respective sectors and areas of expertise. It is these efforts that help drive this conversation through everyday business. On the topic of POC Ambassadors, the fabulous Gary Pope (Ambassador for Kids) will be hosting a wonderfully exciting event next week sharing the insights and findings of a major new piece of research into the global family market. We can’t wait to discover just what the team at Kids Industries have uncovered through this agenda-setting project, and we really cannot wait to share the sustainability findings on the Products of Change platform in the coming weeks, too! Back here at Products of Change and the cogs are already turning on the next issue of the Products of Change magazine. We are immensely proud of what the magazine delivers, a chance to see your success stories and your individual journeys with sustainability reflected back to the industry in the name of encouragement, inspiration, and a documentation of this fantastic voyage into a new future that we are all on together. This is a conversation that’s driven by our togetherness, after all, and it is your continued efforts and strides forwards that should be congratulated and celebrated at every turn. So, do get in touch with Rob if you’ve got news to share. He’d love to hear from you. This idea of industry togetherness is nowhere better expressed, of course, than at the Sustainability in Licensing Conference. Last year marked our first ever in-person iteration of the Conference and I can look back on that day with a wonderful glow of warm memories. For anyone that might need a slight memory jog, perhaps this highlight video from the day will serve its purpose. What a fantastic event it really was. I cannot wait for the next one!