Christmas Cheer

With less than a hundred hours to go until Santa’s sleigh arrives on our rooftops many of us will already be adding up the personal cost to our wallets this Christmas, whilst the toy and consumer products industries will be nervously checking their balance sheets to see if there will be a Christmas 2012!

The relationship that exists between the producers of children’s television content and the manufacturers of children’s merchandise has grown ever closer in the past ten years, not least because a great many shows have come to rely on the belief that their anticipated popularity will give rise to them selling large quantities of merchandise, the revenues from which will help pay for the making of the show.

This relationship has never been a particularly comfortable one, as programme makers worry that ‘the tail will wag the dog’ and that too much attention being paid to how a character looks from a toy manufacturer’s perspective may cause them to lose sight of the story or the show’s core values. On the other side of the coin the potential licensees are looking and thinking ‘if only they’d used four colours in that logo instead of eighteen we could have saved a fortune on packaging’!

So, it remains an uneasy marriage, but no doubt one that will be long lasting. As with most long-term relationships, the two sides eventually find their common ground. Producers now know what the licensing industry look for in a property, and if they don’t they should, and the licensing industry understand where the line is in terms of the creative process – even if they do have the odd foray into enemy territory from time-to-time.

As we pass each other in the halls and corridors at the London and New York Toy Fair, at Nuremburg and Harrogate, or at the Kidscreen Summit and MipTV, lets tip our hats and wish each other ‘Happy Christmas 2012’.

It may never be the perfect marriage and there will be more than the odd spat along the way, but it is one that must and will endure – even if it is ‘for the sake of the kids’.