Huge opportunities for children’s publishers as Mattel positions itself as a “story-centric company” on the hunt for “story-rich” IP content with global reach.
Books were everywhere at MIP Junior this week, the international children’s programming marketplace, populated by TV and film companies and increasingly publishers who are seeing the value in being represented at this Cannes annual shindig.
Although I nearly didn’t make it as planes, trains and automobiles turned my journey to Cannes into something of a slapstick comedy, once I arrived representing my company, Walker Books, one of the world’s leading independent children’s publishers and Walker Productions was a fantastic experience.
I attended as part of The London Book Fair’s biggest delegation of writers, publishing and book licensing executives yet, which was appropriate as story-telling seemed to be the buzzword on everyone’s lips.
Right from the start Mattel’s chief content officer Catherine Balsam-Schwaber Mattel set the tone in her keynote when she declared that Mattel is less and less of a “toy-centric company and more and more of a story-centric company… The toy as the thing that enables the kid to play out our brand stories but also tell stories of their own through the content they’re making.”
She said that Mattel saw kids are now both consumers and creators, noting that their research showed one-third of kids between 3-12 are regularly creating their own video content. “The first thing for us, whether it’s product or content, is that it needs to be rich with story, it needs to have the possibility to inspire wonder in children and have global appeal.”
With this in mind, it felt that many media companies at Cannes were on the lookout for new IP opportunities and publishers are in a fantastic position as story-telling and appreciating the value of a good story is at the bedrock of what we do.
The London Book Fair captured this mood with a fascinating session on “The book as a brand platform”. It was standing room only and the likes of Jeff Norton, Frances Corcoran and Asif Bashir were moderated by Jacks Thomas, LBF Director. They all helpfully shared their unique experiences and were inundated with questions from the audience.
And to cap it off, the nominees for the 2016 International Emmy Kids Awards, announced on Tuesday really hammered home this point with five nominees from content that started in book form.
At Walker Production we celebrated as our series with Kindle for CBBC, Hank Zipzer, was nominated in International Emmy’s Best Series category. But book content shone in other categories too including Horrible Histories in Best Factual, Die Salzprinzessin (The Salt Princess), Peter & Wendy: Based on the Novel Peter Pan and Die Weisse Schlange (The White Snake) all based on classic literature in TV/film category.
So with that wonderful news, we moved on to the other important part of the MIP Junior experience, which is the networking and the imbibing of good wine.
Fortunately the London Book Fair, Walker Books and Children’s Media Conference threw a humdinger of a party where 100 people from all areas of the children’s media industry happily mingled.
It’s brilliant to see publishers’ understanding of story-telling really shining through at this TV and film gathering.
Julia Posen, Walker Books, reports from MIP Junior in Cannes.