Joel Silverman, co-founder of the new charitable initiative and CEO and co-founder of KidsKnowBest, talks about how ToyAid went from being a loose concept to the already impressive movement that is it today. He shares with TNP.MEDIA all of the hard work and love that went into bringing this amazing project to market. And he speaks about his ambitions for ToyAid moving forward.
How did ToyAid come to be founded?
The initial idea was born from me worrying about the state of the industry, retailers shutting, Amazon not prioritising toys, et cetera, and the amazing entrepreneurs I had met and the stresses they were going through. I realised we were in for a tough ride, but as an industry that brings joy to families, we were always going to be needed and were in a lot better place than many other industries.
I thought if we could come together, bring all the great brains and companies that offer unique skills under one collaboration, then we could all support each other.
My first idea was to get the collaboration to launch a joint product – or three – where all would be launched under one umbrella and all profits would go to charity. That was tough, as it takes a while to get something to market. And also, too many cooks spoil the broth!
Once I had discussed this with Richard North of Wow! Stuff, he loved it, and we came to streamline it into what it is now ToyAid. Richard and I are now co-founders!
You might be wondering how we then came to support Global’s brilliant charity, Make Some Noise. When we initially thought up this concept we knew we needed a charity that supports amazing children’s charities, as well as those severely affected by the global pandemic. GMSN fitted the bill perfectly! Plus, giving people’s money away is actually a lot harder than it seems! But Global has allowed us to streamline the process, being an innovative private company, which means that we can quickly help those who need it most.
Why do you think that the toys and entertainment industries are particularly well-placed to offer support?
They’re well positioned to support because all they do is bring joy to families, everyone loves toys and entertainment, so why not get everyone together, stop competing for a moment, and think what we can all do to support a great cause. I think everyone has realised that even though we have our own struggles, we are all very lucky.
You already have some partners, including Smyths Toys. How did you go about selecting these initial partners?
There was no real process in selecting partners as such. I am lucky enough that through the work we have done at KidsKnowBest I have met an abundance of amazing people and companies. I rang every single friend I had a made, bugged them (it didn’t take much) and then everyone would fall into place – if you haven’t been asked, it means sadly, I haven’t met you yet!
Our First Responders are all brilliant, old and new friends that want to do the same thing. Everyone has been so generous.
Outside of financial support, do your partners have plans to support the ToyAid initiative in any other fashion?
At the moment it is about raising awareness, finance and of course giving products. This idea was always a work in progress, I hope many more companies sign up, pledge support and throw ideas our way about how we can continue to support and grow ToyAid.
You have support from toy, mobile and video games companies, licensors, PR agencies, trade media, as well as national retailers. How can companies from across the toy and entertainment industries use their different types of expertise and resource to support ToyAid?
Everyone has been brilliant in helping get this off the ground. As I mentioned when I came up with the collaboration concept, the idea was to bring together different skill sets. Some have great distribution, some have great D2C sites, some have great innovation and some companies like mine have amazing marketing skills. We knew that the bigger the talent pool of companies, licensors, agencies and retailers we had on board, the more the support will grow, the more ideas will fly out of it and the more money we will raise for a great cause.
Are there any other areas or professionals from across the toy and entertainment industries that you’d be keen to partner with?
I would love to create a mini documentary of this. My content team already have something they’re working on and it would be great to be able to use our partners to continue that and distribute the journey – maybe ending with the massive amount. I would also love to get FMCG companies involved. Having the licensors involved will hopefully open their doors – imagine if every cereal box with a character on it is ToyAid-able!
How is the ToyAid team keeping its costs as low as possible to ensure that the money raised is supporting those who really need it?
Well, we’re all working from home. Plus, we don’t take a penny, this is from the good of people’s heart! Everyone is giving their time, while continuing to work on their day jobs.
What are the advantages of joining the Global’s Make Some Noise campaign?
The awareness this will bring – hopefully we can make ToyAid global! We already have one US toy company on board, and I believe Global can help us to get more. We are also hopeful that every presenter will get involved as they help to support communities and local children’s charities. Our ethos fits perfectly with Global’s Make Some Noise and we’re thrilled to be partnering with them.
What are some of the other coronavirus-related initiatives organised by companies in the toy and entertainment industry that you feel are truly stand out?
I mean there are many, MGA and the work they do in the US is brilliant, Lego donating $50m is unreal, Hasbro, Mattel, Zuru, Hornby! Everyone is doing amazing things and the industry should be so proud.
We understand that ToyAid was founded in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Once the world recovers from the outbreak, will ToyAid continue to operate? And if so, do you have any thoughts about where ToyAid will redirect its support?
Of course it was founded due to the terrible pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the brands wouldn’t all be doing their own thing regardless. I think it is easy to forget the amount of good in the industry.
When we recover, I would love to make this a yearly occurrence – a month of ToyAid, supporting either Global’s Make Some Noise or even a charity that is voted for by the public. I want kids to have a voice, so maybe we can ask thousands of kids what charity we should support next year.
For companies and individuals wanting to support ToyAid, how can they go about doing so?
If they visit toyaid.org it will give you all the information needed. As mentioned, this was thrown together really quickly, by a brilliantly supportive team – so please appreciate that it might not be perfect.
Is there anything further that you would like to add?
I want to add that ToyAid is something we should all be proud of. I wouldn’t have even thought of it if I wasn’t sure the industry would come together. We are lucky to be in such a great world. It also wouldn’t be anywhere without the support of some very key people, Richard North, Tracey Richardson, Ian Downes to name just three. The whole of the industry is part of it and that’s the way it should be. Thank you!