Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” is a beacon guiding families and kids through tough, yet important conversations that impact both them as an individual and the betterment of society. Licensing underpins many of Sesame Workshop’s strategies that have helped kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.
License Global spoke with Gabriela Arenas, vice president, global licensing, Sesame Workshop, ahead of her Licensing U session held at next week’s Licensing Expo Virtual set for August 24-26. Arenas shared insight into her session, new projects underway, and her overall excitement for the event.
License Global: Sesame Workshop has approached various challenging topics that arose from the pandemic, including diversity and inclusion and your latest docuseries ‘Through Our Eyes’ that examines social issues with kids’ perspectives. Could you shed some light on these important initiatives?
Gabriela Arenas: Research is our compass and guide. We work with educators and child development experts and have a team of curriculum advisors who only help identify issues impacting today’s kids. And we test every segment to ensure the efficacy of our content. We don’t shy away from tough topics, and we respond to families’ most pressing needs.
This past year and a half has been challenging in so many ways, but Sesame Workshop is doing what we’ve always done: looking at every issue from the point of view of a child and figuring out how we’re uniquely qualified to help. Whether it’s a picture book that explains mask-wearing and social distancing or a broadcast special that helps families through early conversations about race and racism, everything we make is based on research and developmentally appropriate for very young children – and the friendly faces of the “Sesame Street” Muppets reassure families that we’re all in this together.
In the next few months, families can expect to see more content and resources from Coming Together, our racial justice initiative.
What role has licensing played in these initiatives?
Sesame Workshop’s licensing business supports our work in many ways – not just financially, but by deepening our connections to fans and families and creating new ways for them to support the causes they care about. And in the licensed content itself! We seek out emerging trends, marketplaces, and mission-aligned partners to work with, from direct-to-consumer brands with “buy-one, give-one” models to parent entrepreneurs with solution-based products. Our collaborations with high fashion brands like Moschino, accessible streetwear like Champion, and more create new opportunities to draw fans of all ages into our mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder.
Another topic we’ve been tackling is mindfulness. Knowing that kids are under more stress and pressure than ever before, we continue to create new content and collaborations to help the whole family stay strong and healthy together – physically and emotionally. Coming up are books based on the Headspace and “Sesame Street” meditation and mindfulness videos with Penguin Random House, as well as yoga mats and new audio offerings on this topic.
You’re speaking at Licensing U this year. Could you share insight into your session and what attendees can look forward to learning?
I look forward to sharing Sesame’s unique approach to partnerships. As a nonprofit organization, we need to deliver on our mission in everything we do. I’ll get into the strategy behind our decision-making process and some of our most successful collaborations and talk about the areas we’re actively growing – like content and products that support mindfulness and family wellness!
Any news from Sesame Workshop that you can share?
You may have seen the news… but Elmo just adopted a new puppy, Tango! Furry Friends Forever franchise campaign. New books include “Furry Friends Forever: Elmo Gets a Puppy” from Studio Fun and “First Look and Find: Furry Friends Forever” from PI Kids. Other products are storybooks on General Mills “Sesame Street” cereals, Dance and Play Elmo and Tango from GUND and ASO bandages. Best of all, Tango will be joining Sesame Street as a Muppet character in season 52, so look for lots more Tango coming in 2022 and beyond.
Be sure to register for Licensing U and secure your Licensing Expo pass here to tune into Gabriela’s must-attend session.