LicensingSource chats to CEO of The Copyrights Group, Sophie Kopaczynski, about its new BearKind CSR initiative and why everyone can ‘be more like Paddington’.
Firstly, can you explain the background to the new initiative, BearKind? Why did The Copyrights Group decide to embark on a CSR initiative, and why with Paddington? Being the rights owners for Paddington (who could be seen as a super hero with his power being to spread the power of kindness), really led the way for us. Before making it a CSR initiative, we took a lot of time thinking about how we would spread kindness and what it meant. We came to the conclusion we would be following two paths – one would be to celebrate acts of kindness and create an inspiring community of people and the other, as a company and with our partners, we took the approach of being kind to each other (which we already are, so that was easy!) and be kind to the planet. It’s the goal of the initiative, to make a difference with small acts of kindness aiming to be more conscientious of our environment and considerate of each other.
What makes the character so perfect for it? Paddington stories have accompanied many families for over 60 years, creating memories for children and adults alike. These stories are infused with kindness. Kindness is in the DNA of Paddington. When we spoke with HarperCollins two years ago about our idea, they jumped on it and created this fantastic ‘Book of Kindness, curating different acts of kindness seen throughout Michael Bond’s stories.
What is the main aim of the initiative? As I said, the goal of BearKind is to spread the power of kindness. Inspire people to be more kind to their community and to the planet, and to make our business more sustainable.
How will Paddington be used within BearKind? He is our mentor! We want to encourage people to ‘be more like Paddington’. Everyone is capable of being BearKind, just look around! Small steps are just as meaningful, whether that means recycling your waste, supporting your community, holding the door open for someone… But we also want to have more and more BearKind products, working with our partners to take small steps to be more kind to the planet, and taking action on plastics, CO2, water, animal testing…
How will BearKind link up with other initiatives that the character is involved with, such as UNICEF for example? The long-term partnership between UNICEF and Paddington is by definition BearKind. Helping the children in need has definitely been inspiring for our thought process. And when we see how powerful the partnership is between Paddington and UNICEF, we do believe we are at the right place to carry on inspiring caring for each other and the planet.
The goal of BearKind is to spread the power of kindness, says Sophie.
Can you share any planned activities for BearKind with us? This week, we are launching the BearKind website – https://bearkind.org/. The website is just one part of our digital toolkit to promote kindness. We want to celebrate all acts of kindness creating a community of people who, by taking little steps, are helping to change their world bit by bit. And again, it’s not just the obvious ones, but the more micro and effective acts that we’re applauding which cause the ripple effect over time, that we call the sustainable acts of kindness. We will also share tips to be more BearKind, like rehome your old Paddington products you don’t want as others will still enjoy them. In the community, we’ll have our fans but also our partners joining us. We will celebrate community and partner actions, being more sustainable or driving any ‘kind’ actions.
Will BearKind be linked with any dedicated CP at all? Bearkind is in all our conversations with our licensees, so already several Paddington products set to be released later this year are BearKind, as they will contain more sustainable components, will be organic or will have packaging with less plastic. On our webstore, we’ll have a dedicated BearKind corner for sustainable products. And indeed we would love to develop a whole BearKind range in the future.
Will collaborations be included? Are you looking for any kind of partnerships in particular for the initiative? BearKind is now at the centre of the Copyrights business. We make sure that all of our initial discussions with prospects include BearKind, so that all of our collaborations are in keeping with the initiative. We want the licensees we work with to be on board and we are working with them to align BearKind goals with their own CSR objectives. Anything to promote kindness will be welcome.
What would you most like to achieve with the initiative by the end of 2021? By the end of the year, we are hoping to have rolled out the BearKind initiative to all our partners. Having more and more BearKind products, to create and engage an online community and to build a strong digital space where fans and consumers can share key BearKind moments, and inspire others.
And what is the long-term goal? BearKind is all about creating transformational change in the lives of people and communities. We want to help build confidence, empower and motivate people to drive the power of kindness around them. We will keep doing so by offering entertaining and inspiring Paddington content, by sustaining our support of charities and by continuing to improve our business standards, particularly in relation to Paddington products.