There have been few non-coronavirus-related publicity announcements or product launches involving licensing in the last month or so, since the lockdown began in the U.S. That changed yesterday, at least for a day, as companies with a connection to the licensing business went ahead with their merchandise and marketing plans tied to the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.
Some of the initiatives revealed included:
- New collaborations involving manufacturers of sustainable products. Billabong LAB is offering a collection of board shorts and bikinis made from recycled and sustainable materials, with each of the items in the more-than-30-piece assortment featuring a character from a different Dr. Seuss book, including the environmentally themed classic, The Lorax. The Billabong x Dr. Seuss Earth Day 2020 collection, which is for kids and adults, will be available through July 2020.
- New licensed products tied to eco-friendly properties. BuzzPop, the licensing imprint of Little Bee Books, said it had signed a master publishing deal with Spiffy Pictures for books tied to Nature Cat, a TV series for kids aged 3-8 that has aired on PBS Kids since 2015. The company holds rights to a variety of book formats, from board books and readers to storybooks and graphic novels. It plans to debut the first product, a picture book called Nature Cat: A Nature Carol, in fall 2020.
- Changes in product and packaging specs. Toy company Zuru announced it would replace its plastic surprise polybags with sustainably sourced paper surprise bags across many of its brands. It is also phasing in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic stems and caps on its Bunch O Balloons, among other eco-friendly ventures.
- The addition of sustainability labels. Burberry announced it would introduce new labeling across key categories to call out how each product meets its sustainability goals. It also launched a ReBurberry Edit collection of 26 of its spring 2020 looks remade with sustainable materials.
- Partnerships with environmental organizations. Designer Vivienne Westwood, who has long worked to protect endangered forests, paired with Canopy, a group whose mission is to protect forests, species, and climate. The partnership launches with a video linking deforestation and the consumption of clothing that incorporates viscose created from trees.
- The launch of educational materials about the environment. MDR Brand Management, which oversees licensing for The Wombles, said the characters are being used in a promotion to support Keep Britain Tidy’s #EcoSchoolsAtHome program, centered on providing environmentally themed teaching resources. A contest asks children to create messages about littering and the effect it has on wildlife.
The fact that these Earth Day launches were considered important enough to be promoted as scheduled, despite most other non-coronavirus initiatives being put on hold, is an indication of the growing importance of sustainability in the long-term strategies of consumer products marketers and IP owners.
Speaking of the pandemic, Raugust Communications has launched a Coronavirus Resource Page that gathers together all of our writings related to the crisis. It provides easy access to articles completed specifically for this page—including an in-depth update of issues the licensing business is currently facing, published Tuesday (April 21, 2020)—as well as pieces we have released first in this RaugustReports blog, in Raugust Communications’ monthly e-newsletter, and elsewhere. Topics range from broad overviews of COVID-19-related trends, to sales opportunities created by the crisis, to how licensing executives are marketing themselves during difficult times. Access the Coronavirus Resource Page here, and check back often; the page is regularly updated.