Products of Change


Thu 18 May 2023 | by Rob Hutchins

Kenn Viselman puts MeteoHeroes climate education at the heart of his new online 'emporium of entertainment'

There’s always a fanfare of media and industry excitement whenever Kenn Viselman – the executive producer behind some of the biggest children’s IP the licensing world has ever known – puts his name to another project. In part, it must be something to do with his expertise in playing the ‘hype man’ (a role he’ll readily admit to) but don’t let that negate the fact that the biggest contributing factor to this is that Kenn knows an exciting project when he sees one. Last year, he came out swinging for the American education system with major plans to roll-out an environment and climate change curriculum, community outreach programme, and online education platform to 30,000 schools across the US, utilising the hit animated IP MeteoHereos to alleviate the epidemic of climate anxiety among young learners today. This year, Kenn has taken not only the next step to bolster this plan but a bold new initiative to simultaneously ‘level the industry playing field’ for the independent creator and producer while also “redefining the online retail experience” with a ‘content-first’ platform that will help audiences ‘not only make a purchase but make a difference.’ Kenn’s itsy-bitsy World of Wonders (itsybitsyWOW) launched three weeks ago with a calendar of exclusive content including the world premiere of the MeteoHeroes Live Earth Day special, guest speaker events with climate scientists, exclusive comic books readings from pioneering creators, and of course one wild ambition to become “an emporium of entertainment.” Naturally, Products of Change had to find out more. Congratulations, Kenn, on the launch of itsybitsyWOW! We’ve seen some fantastic industry reaction to the launch, what is it about the platform that’s captured people’s imagination and attention? Rob, the most challenging thing for a ‘hype man’ is to have a project that requires no hype… so I’m going to just report the facts – starting with, the industry seem to be having a field day talking about The itsy bitsy World of Wonders. But to understand it requires people understand the state of the industry and how the independent creator and producer is being squeezed out. Giant media companies are just getting bigger and – although they often tend to regurgitate versions of old IP that most audiences have lost interest in – they are often in control of the screens and shelves, making it increasingly difficult for independents to get their content in front of audiences in a meaningful way. So, seems like the next logical step. We can create new content that our audience wants to watch and talk directly with them to make sure we’re listening and creating what they need. It’s fitting that itsybitsyWOW launched with the MeteoHereos Live Earth Day special – a property and a message we know to be close to your heart. What’s your vision for the platform in engaging audience with topics surrounding climate change education, edutainment, and empowerment? Thanks for mentioning MeteoHeroes – as you know this project is becoming more of a calling for me and the team behind the series. It’s more of a movement than a TV series. When I say itsybitsyWOW is more than an online retailer, it’s because the aim is to create an experience. The store was created to allow the consumer to do more than make a purchase, but to make a difference. I want to curate a world with a variety of brands that speak to varying audiences with a variety of activities for families to experience both individually and together. We have plans for live performances, guest speakers, and a variety of other ways for us to create an emporium of entertainment. MeteoHeroes allows us to really explore the idea of how young children and their families can help change the world for the better. Everything we are focusing on gives our youth the tool they need to feel powerful. We are planning a number of really fun guest speakers who will speak to kids to help them engage in what is the biggest existential crisis of their lives. Does itsy-bitsyWOW have a role to play in the big ambitions you announced last year to develop a climate change school curriculum and online educational platform centred on MeteoHeroes? Simply put, yes it does. Everything and everyone in my life right now seems to play a role in this initiative. Our ability to reach out to our audience, especially the young kids who are experiencing climate anxiety, and tell them they don’t need to wear a cape to be a superhero is just the beginning. Our goal is to use as just one of many outlets to share our age-graded curriculum about education to and with the world. You’ve mentioned empowering audiences to make a difference a number of times. Would this be the charity initiative at the heart of the retail platform? The platform donates 10% of sales to affiliated charities and 100% of one purchase to their cause? That’s right! I want this experience to be empowering and I want children to learn at an early age they are important no matter how old they are, they can make a difference. I have always said you can make a lot of money and do good things at the same time – I thought it was time to put my money where my mouth was. In my gut, I believe covid and the isolation protocols have changed us in ways we still do not fully understand. Many of us are searching for some meaningful way to ‘be seen’ or ‘feel connected’ and even if it is just in a small way, if it’s possible for to play a role, then I want to help be that catalyst. Next time: Products of Change explores how itsybitsyWOW will use leverage and status to provide a platform for independent, diverse, and underrepresented content.