CTA and TIA Deliver Industry Update

Ken Ebeling, Kate Baldwin, Heather Yuhasz

The TIA's Ken Ebeling (left) with Kate Baldwin (centre) and Heather Yuhasz, both of Brands in Balance.

A town hall meeting hosted earlier this week by the Canadian Toy Association (CTA), and the U.S. Toy Industry Association (TIA), attracted a full house of toy industry members.

It was a disparate audience, including more than 30 representatives from the distribution, retail, licensing, entertainment, marketing and PR sides of the business. All came to hear what leadership personnel from the two associations had to say about a number of issues.

Of course, the lead topic of the day was a status update on the multi-year affiliation agreement signed by the CTA and TIA just over a year ago. The agreement, seen by most — but not all — as a positive step for both parties, merged the organizations’ membership structures and gave CTA member suppliers access to new services and programs. The new partnership was also intended to create a stronger collective voice at the government level.

The CTA’s Serge Micheli opened the event by introducing the head-table executives, which included the association’s newly appointed Chair, Steve Morris, of Jakks Pacific Canada, along with the TIA’s President/CEO Steve Pasierb, and VP Strategic Development and Member Services Ken Ebeling.

CTA Chair Outlines Goals
Following Micheli’s introductions, Morris, a much-respected name in the Canadian toy trade, briefly outlined his vision and future goals for the CTA. He also acknowledged the many changes and challenges facing all toy industries around the world today — not the least being a global trend of kids moving more to digital gadgets.

He added that preserving a successful Canadian industry was to the benefit of everyone who worked in the trade — not just the traditional CTA vendor membership. Perhaps hinting of a possible change to membership bylaws, Morris finished with an appeal to the audience, saying a better industry could only evolve with everyone’s help and involvement.

Steve Pasierb, Steve Morris

Steve Pasierb, TIA president, shared the stage with CTA Chair Steve Morris (right).

The TIA team took the helm next with Pasierb and Ebeling presenting a detailed review of the many fronts on which their organization is active and successful both at home and internationally.

Although best known perhaps as the organizer of the annual North American International Toy Fair, the TIA is also a leader in working with governments to create testing standards and measurements that work for the industry, while keeping consumers safe. Pasierb, who like Morris is new to his position, gave a brief but comprehensive update on current legislative proceedings on both sides of the border.

In addition, Pasierb listed the many resources, programs, promotions and initiatives now accessible to CTA members under the strengthened partnership between the two groups.

Programs Promote Consumer Buzz
One of those programs is the excellent Genius of Play campaign. Implemented in early 2015, the campaign is designed to spread awareness about play’s healthy benefits and the critical role it has in developing skills. Supported by much research data, the promotion comprises a series of short fun videos and a consumer website — all reminding families of the need to make toys and play part of their kids’ everyday lives.

Pasierb described another new initiative that also targets consumers but represents a real change of direction for the TIA. Play Fair, a family-style toy and play experience, will launch next February. The inaugural event, which could attract as many as 25,000 visitors, will run for two days alongside the 2016 trade fair in NYC’s Jacob Javits Center. Like the Genius of Play campaign, Play Fair is expected to generate a buzz that lasts year-round.

Although the meeting closed without any tough questions being asked or answered, attendees left with enough food for thought to fuel any number of future discussions. For more information about the CTA/TIA partnership, contact the Canadian Toy Association.

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