When brand partnerships go bad: A love letter to Bluey

Bluey the sign

“Your partnerships and licensing are not aligned to your purpose, and they’re hurting your brand.”

By Timothy O’Brien, CEO at Purpose Made

Dear Bluey,

I’ve got a bone to pick with you.

Your partnerships and licensing are not aligned to your purpose, and they’re hurting your brand.

You are hanging out with the wrong crowd! I’m worried about you. I love you, little Bluey, and so do my children and many children around the world.

You’re part of the small window of TV our 3-year-old and 1-year-old watch. They love your show and learn so much from your stories.

You have built an enormous amount of trust with children across the world, and with trust comes responsibility and influence. Your shows are crafted with the utmost care, and you take on tricky societal challenges in such an accessible way.

You are in the business of helping our children develop through powerful storytelling. Yet, when it comes to your collaborations and partnerships, why can’t you do the same?

Why are they not aligned with your purpose?

Why are they potentially having a detrimental impact on the children you are telling stories to?

Going to the supermarket with my children brings so much joy, and as we go around the aisles, your brand is attached to so many products. Most of these products are not suitable for daily consumption by children and wouldn’t pass basic nutrition requirements – biscuits, highly sugared flavoured milk, custards, and so many Easter eggs. Of course, our children want them, as they want you!

Although we as parents make the ultimate choice, you championing these bad choices makes it harder for us.

So, my bone to pick with you: take the same care and attention with your partnerships as you do with your stories.

You have a huge influence, and that influence can be used for good. Why not champion nutrient-dense food and responsible manufacturing that can contribute to a healthier and happier generation of children? You and your licensing partners might forgo some partnership revenue initially, but ultimately, this will be better for you, our children, and our futures.

Put simply, you can do better, and you have a responsibility to do so.

Now, I know this might be out of your direct hands, Bluey, and you probably didn’t see this coming. It appears BBC Studios and the ABC have merchandising rights, and BBC Studio runs global distribution.

What will happen next? Can you have a greater say in what is unfolding?

It’s critical for your brand to have control, or at least a say, in its licensing to protect its integrity, and we don’t want you turning into a case study on when licensing goes wrong.

Look, we can work through this together. Go revisit your licensing agreements, ensure you have clarity on the types of purposeful partnership that are aligned, and relaunch for good. Our other friend Barbie learnt some harsh lessons too when she was featured on the packaging of fast-food giants. A lot of people were upset.

You don’t have to follow the crowd. You can be the leader and innovator you have always been. It’s a lesson for us all and happens when we start to grow, things can get a bit higgledy piggledy and start to feel a bit wobbly. We must take the time to find ourselves again.

With love, hugs, and admiration.

A father of two little ones, Timothy O’Brien

See also: Mediaweek HOT List April 2024: Bluey’s house on Domain, Yeah the Pies, and Alone Cologne

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