Products of Change


Thu 01 Jun 2023 | by Rob Hutchins

POC Expo Highlight | Magic Light Pictures talks small changes, big differences

Products of Change will be making its presence known at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas this month playing host to a showcase of product and brand licensing activity that is pioneering new ground in the sustainable development of the global industry. Among those exhibiting their journey with sustainability to date on the Products of Change booth – Stand C142 – will be POC member and the licensor behind some ground-breaking developments within responsible and sustainable licensing, Magic Light Pictures. Home to The Gruffalo, Zog, Superworm and a whole host of other Julia Donaldson classics, Magic Light Pictures has been behind the development of real change in the sustainable design – and re-design – of some of the most popular lines found on shelves today. Whether it’s the removal of single-use plastic from Wow! Stuff’s Gruffalo toy line or the ‘zero waste’ ambitions of Play Press Toys and its Room on the Broom Playset, Magic Light has been instrumental in driving ‘licensing with a difference.’ We catch up with Magic Light Pictures’ senior brand manager, Alexandra Sanson. Hi Alex, good to catch up again. We’re looking forward to showcasing the Magic Light collection on the POC booth at Licensing Expo. Can you tell us – what does sustainability mean to you and how is it reflected in partnerships and products you develop? That’s a big question! For us, sustainability is very much about the journey right now. We know that the ‘best practice’ will continue to evolve as technology develops and new information comes to light, so none of us can be standing still. What we are doing now is approaching each new decision with a bit more careful consideration and making sure that due diligence is in place – whether it’s fully understanding a new licensee and their manufacturing processes or considering what packaging finishes will be recommended in upcoming style guides, we’re trying to build sustainability into part of our everyday considerations. Some changes might seem small, but when you think about how many tens of thousands of units might be created of a single product, it really adds up. What have been some of the most inspiring moments in the sustainable development of these products? What moments or learnings have shaped new ways of thinking? Products of Change has been a great help in giving us a framework and some good thinking points to keep moving forward. But at the same time, some of our licensees have really been leaders in putting sustainability at the heart of their products. For example, PlayPress’ entire model relies on the sustainability of their product, which is biodegradable and recyclable, uses sustainable materials, and earth-friendly inks. This was a consideration for them from day one, and it really shows. Small licensees are making big differences and showing us that change is possible if individuals are willing to push for it. On the other hand, we have bigger licensees like Wow! Stuff who initially created quite a plastic-heavy packaging solution. But they really took our feedback on board and reworked it so thoughtfully. What they managed to create was not only completely plastic-free and fully recyclable but it also made the product look ten times better than in the original casing. Not only that, it cost less too. There’s definitely something to be learned here: we can be more eco-friendly and commercial at the same time. It doesn’t have to be either / or. What role do brands and licensed products have to play in placing sustainability in the hands and in the homes of families? The science is pretty clear that we need to do better and when you’re creating hundreds of thousands of new products in the world every year, you have to be considerate of the fact that has an impact. We can choose what that impact will be. As a licensor, we have some power just as retailers have power too. Between each party, we can make a big difference to what we are putting out into the world. Just as we try to create film productions that will improve the lives of our fans, we think our product should too. Alex, thanks so much – before you go, what are the next big steps for you guys and your sustainable development? We’re working really hard to finalise our sustainable packaging style guide with help from Mike Swain who is making recommendations and improvements to our work. Next up will be a product guide that will highlight the key values and the importance of sustainability in our licensing programme. It’s great that retailers are doing so much more now days. We know if everyone can contribute to this positive change of direction then it doesn’t only make individual products more sustainable, but it can future-proof the whole industry. Be sure to check out the Magic Light Pictures product showcase at the Products of Change booth C142 at Licensing Expo where you will find product from Wow! Stuff, Asmodee, Aurora, PlayPress Toys, Good Bubble, baby Mori, and Designer Bums.