Black Lives Matter expands licensee base with tonies

As part of its growth efforts, BLM Licensing Committee is expanding its licensee base.

The groups’ growth has been accelerated further with a partnership with kids’ audio system tonies. Through this partnership, the Black Lives Matter Licensing Committee will work closely with tonies on their product development strategy and creative development.

Saphia Maxamed, founder of Black Lives Matter Licensing Movement, says: “Our group has identified an area where they can help move the industry forward by being a voice on how to diversify product ranges to ensure both authenticity and inclusivity. We are aware that not every category can carry our licence, after all, the products and partners need to make sense. However, we are extremely happy the industry is open to working through how they can best support the movement and make the changes needed to be supportive of the black community. Being able to give guidance to such an important partner in our industry is incredible, and we’re looking forward to working together.”

All monies received from the partnership will be donated to a beneficiary that will be announced in due course.

Liz Peters, Head of UK & Eire Portfolio at tonies, comments: “We are really happy to be working with the BLM Licensing Committee. Here at tonies, we are committed to diversifying our portfolio and it is extremely important to us to make sure we are getting the look and feel of the product, as well as the content, right. The advice and support we have received from the team at BLM Licensing has been invaluable to us in developing our portfolio of Tonies and we are delighted that our fee will be going back into the community.”

ViacomCBS Consumer Products to share Diversity & Inclusion insights plus new toy research during BLE Day 2 keynote

ViacomCBS will share insights from its corporate Diversity & Inclusion efforts with a specific focus on its recently conducted toy research study during Brand Licensing Europe’s second day keynote.

Mark Kingston, Senior Vice President, International, ViacomCBS Consumer Products will lead the keynote and review the impact on culture, community and industry when there’s a strong commitment to diversity, inclusion and belonging. The keynote will also include Ameeta Held, Vice President, Insights and Business Strategy, Consumer Products, ViacomCBS, referencing original toy research detailing the importance of authentic representation in dolls and the impact on choice.

The keynote, which takes place in-person at BLE from 13:00-14:00 on Thursday 18 November, will also set the background as to why the consumer products and licensing community plays such a pivotal role in diversity and inclusion.

“As an organisation we are dedicated to creating content that reflects the global audiences we serve, and within consumer products we are especially committed to ensuring our products are inclusive and representative,” says Mark Kingston. “Our latest research shines a light on the important role our industry plays in our continued conversation around Diversity & Inclusion and I look forward to presenting our thoughts and findings alongside my colleagues at BLE.”

Ahead of ViacomCBS’ keynote, representatives from Black Lives Matter Licensing UK will take to the stage to talk about the group’s purpose, goals and activity in the sector to date.

Informa Markets’ VP of Licensing Anna Knight says, “It’s not possible to underestimate the importance of this keynote to our industry and I implore everyone who is attending BLE to pre-register now and secure a spot. Consumer products has a huge responsibility – and opportunity – to represent, embrace and empower diversity if we are to build a more inclusive and equal future for consumers across the world.”

ViacomCBS is one of over 150 exhibitors currently confirmed for BLE, which takes place in-person at ExCeL London from 17-19 November followed by an online event on 30 November to 1 December. The Exhibitor list features companies from all three licensing categories – Character & Entertainment, Brands & Lifestyle, and Art, Design & Image – and with strong representation from Europe, the UK and wider afield.

You can view the show’s exhibitor list here.

Black Lives Matter Licensing movement expands team as “industry is ready to take action”

The Black Lives Matter Licensing movement has welcomed two new members to the team amid a period of rapid growth reflective, the group has suggested, of an industry ‘determined to implement meaningful change’.

Kim Saxelby (pictured right), senior design manager, Universal Brand Development Group, has joined the movement to help build a strong framework for the group’s licensing programme as it continues to gather pace, while Shontae Savage (pictured left), founder of the consulting company Savvy Synergies LLC will lead the group’s licensing initiative in the United States.

The addition of the two industry executives not only bolsters an expanding team but brings the Black Lives Matter Licensing movement into the US market for the first time.

Savage boasts around 20 years’ experience in the brand licensing industry, representing global sports and entertainment brands such as NFL, CBS, CBS Films, Showtime, and DC Comics. Her company, Savvy Synergies LLC focuses on filling the void for licensed products for African American IP, leveraging her expertise in the industry to help Black IP expand into new product categories and markets.

“Being an African American, I am personally aware of the unmet needs of the African-American consumer and fanbase of Black IP,” said Savage. “I have focused my efforts to create cultural-focused licensing programs around Black IP and fulfilling the pinned-up consumer demands of historically over-looked Black IP and its fan base in licensing.

“This Movement is something I am passionate about and it is the experience I have lived with. I am keen to help this real cause for change I hope to lend my real life experience and my extensive experience in Licensing to represent this niche market from a culture-centric approach.”

Saxelby, added: “I am excited and honoured to be joining such a talented and passionate team. I can’t wait to get started and can hopefully bring my experience to make positive change not only to our industry but to this social injustice issue which is very important to me.”

Both Saxelby and Savage now join a team that earlier this year welcomed Simta Sawhney, category director at ViacomCBS Consumer Products UK, Hannah Miles, managing director of Fashion UK, and Ravina Mehta, graphic designer at BB Designs.

Black Lives Matter UK’s Christina Jordean has been “thrilled” by the level of support the movement has been shown by the licensing industry to date.

“We are very happy that Kim and Shontae have joined us,” she said. “We have been candid that we need to work with our allies. Kim is passionate about making the change, Black Lives Matter is something that is very important to her. Shontae is a key member of the team for us, she is a great addition who understands black culture from an African American perspective.

“With Shontae leading us from New York, we can now take this much needed support of this global movement in the heart of the African American communities and help tackle social injustices for African American communities.”

Meanwhile, the Black Lives Matter Licensing movement’s Saphia Maxamed believes it is clear ‘that the industry is ready to take action.’

“I have to say, I have been amazed throughout this journey,” she said. “To me, change has already happened and it is up to us on what we do moving forward. What is clear, is that the industry is ready to take action.

“We have been working solidly on a framework for the licensing programme for a year and having key talents from major licensors at the forefront of the work we are doing is a testament to what we as an industry can do together when the subject matter touches all of us.

“If you really think about it, this is industry is uniquely positioned to send the message in every household on a global scale though consumer products. That puts us in a place of responsibility and the industry understands that. This is why this key
addition to the team, and the work we are doing, is significant.

I am pleased that together we can build and really work with black communities on initiatives that would make changes in people’s lives. Both Kim and Shontae brings a wealth of licensing experience and personal passion for making positive change.”