John Baulch, Chair of TIE’s Play For Change Awards Jury, on why he’s proud to be part of the Awards

The entry period for the 2021 #PlayForChangeAwards is now in full swing. We sat down for a virtual coffee with our Jury Chair, John Baulch, Publisher and Managing Director of Toy World Magazine, to hear more about why he decided to get involved and what the Awards mean to him as an industry veteran.

TIE: The Play for Change Awards have been created to recognise toy companies who are innovating in the fields of sustainability, empowerment and future skills. As someone who’s been reporting on sector for over 40 years, have you seen an evolution in the importance of these principles for toy companies?

 JB: The toy community is increasingly embracing the concepts of sustainability, empowerment and future skills. Partly this is a reaction to consumer trends, but it is also the result of toy companies appreciating the importance of having a credible, robust ethical approach to business. As an industry which revolves around the younger generation, we recognise how essential it is to protect the planet for future generations, and also how important it is to deliver products which reflect the changing world that children live in.

TIE: This will be your second year as chairing the Awards’ jury, what were your key takeaways from our first ever Play for Change Awards in 2020?

JB: Last year’s awards showed that toy companies are making great progress in these areas. Of course, we still have a long way to go – no market can wave a magic wand and transform overnight. There are many complex issues involved, and we must make sure that we balance commercial considerations with values, ideals and goals. The entries we received illustrated just how many toy companies are already tackling the issues successfully, and delivering products and initiatives which are making a valuable contribution to moving the toy industry forward.

TIE: It was great to see the range and quality of entries to last year’s Awards, what are you hoping to see this year?

 JB: I would love to see many more entries this year – I know there is plenty of fantastic work being done across the industry and we’d like you to make our job to select the winners even harder this year. Whether you are a large or small company, whether your initiatives are working on a global or local scale, there is no barrier to entry, or indeed to winning an award – last year’s recipients varied in size and scope, and reflected the many ways in which toy companies are addressing these challenges.

TIE: The role of Jury Chair is no mean feat, not least in terms of the time that you need to invest – what made you say yes to taking on the role for the Play for Change Awards again?

JB: I am proud to be part of an award programme which recognises the fantastic work being done across the toy community to embrace change. Awards based on sales and commercial success will always be an essential part of the landscape, but there is also a place for awards that acknowledge those companies which are showing the way forward, inspiring others in the industry to consider changing their approach.

Click here to find out how to enter the Awards.