President’s Letter – June 11, 2013: A Watershed Event

Shi Xiao-Guang, president, China Toy and Juvenile Products Association; Bernie Ting, chairman, Hong Kong Toys Council; Jerry Storch, chairman, Toys “R” Us;  Paul Kraut, managing director, Schleich Toys; Carter Keithley, president, Toy Industry Association; Lars Abel, president, NordicToys; Roland Earl, director general, British Toy & Hobby Association; Synesio Batista da Costa, president, Associação Brasileira Dos Fabricantes De Brinquedos.

TIA was pleased to host the 2013 Annual General Meeting of the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) in Washington, DC last week.  For the first time, the ICTI meeting was co-located with a meeting of the International Toy Industry CEO Roundtable.

ICTI was formed in 1975 by a group of far-sighted toy association executives who saw the need for coordination among toy trade organizations around the world.  The group provides a valuable platform to exchange information and learn about best-practices, but each member’s first obligation is to his or her own Board of Directors. This has made it difficult for ICTI to coordinate advocacy efforts globally.

The CEO Roundtable was formed in 2007 as an informal gathering of 20 global toy company leaders who come together to exchange information about international toy industry issues.  These executives have a tightly focused perspective on global issues, but they depend upon the efforts of their respective national associations to accomplish good outcomes.

The joint meeting last week was a watershed event that enabled the CEOs to support ICTI and its members on a global scale.  The CEOs identified three areas of priority concern – chemical regulation, environmental issues and marketing to children – and called for the national toy associations to undertake coordinated advocacy efforts on these issues.  They also asked ICTI members to develop a global campaign on the value of play and to secure commitments of support from their respective members for the industry’s “ICTI CARE Process” assuring worker protection in toy factories. 

The CEOs told the ICTI participants that they fully understand the necessity of advocating for industry interests at the national level, but emphasized that all the associations must advocate for consistent outcomes on behalf of what has become a global industry.  They pledged that their companies would become even more involved so that ICTI and its members – individually and collectively – can coordinate advocacy on a global scale. 

Last week we witnessed the re-birth of ICTI as a newly empowered international organization. There is much work left to be done, but the collective efforts of the national trade association executives and the chief executives of major toy companies from around the world promises more effective representation for what has truly become a global industry. 

Warm regards to all,

ckeithley@toyassociation.org