Hasbro’s Global Publishing Director Marie-Cecile Bourdillon talks PEPPA PIG as the brand turns 20

“This will always be a strong avenue for Peppa…” Marie-Cecile Bourdillon on Hasbro’s prize pig!

Marie-Cecile Bourdillon, welcome! Interesting surname… Does it have a meaning?
Thank you! The name dates back centuries in France and originally meant ‘person from Bordeaux.’

Interesting! And for those that don’t know you, what’s your job title?
I currently serve as the Global Publishing Director at Hasbro, a position I recently came into after previously working as the Director of Publishing for EMEA and Asia. Currently, I help manage Hasbro’s global publishing team across key regions.

And what does the role entail?
The job largely entails diversifying and expanding Hasbro’s publishing offerings based on our iconic portfolio of brands – Transformers, G.I. Joe, Dungeons & Dragons, My Little Pony and many more – through comics, books, magazines, audio, digital, AR/VR expressions and more.

Now – as you know better than most people – PEPPA PIG turns 20 this year. Can you tell me about some specific projects that you think exemplify the brand?
As a preschool franchise, PEPPA PIG has a natural alignment with learning; bringing fun to early years development for kids all around the world. One of the core pillars of the brand is teaching kids to be confident as they explore their curiosity and ‘jumping in’ to try new things. We’ve brought that pillar to life on the publishing front through our Learn with Peppa program.

Who’s that with?
That’s with Ladybird, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Developed with help from early years specialists, the initiative provides a learning framework that includes seven categories fundamental for little ones to better understand the world around them: My Body, Creativity, Math, English, Emotions, Our World and Community. To date, we’ve released more than 70 preschool titles in a variety of formats, including print, e-books and audio books.

“They help build confidence and self-assurance as children take their first steps as little learners.”

They help build confidence and self-assurance as children take their first steps as little learners. To further infuse the fun, videos are also available on YouTube, so children can learn while they watch content from their favourite show!

Marie-Cecile Bourdillon, Hasbro, Peppa Pig

Furthermore, this year, to coincide with the 20th anniversary and 10th season of the PEPPA PIG series, we’re releasing an extensive range of books that feature content tie-ins and party themes from leading publishers like Scholastic, Random House Children’s Books, Milan Presse, Hachette, Egmont Storyhouse, and others, including Ladybird again. These various projects all continue the Peppa fun, while staying true to the brand’s core values. We’re also expanding further into the audio space with PEPPA PIG podcasts for kids and parents from Audible.

Brilliant! Learn with Peppa looks like a full-time job on its own. What are the core values with which you approach Learn with Peppa?
Learn with Peppa is intrinsically tied to our core value that Peppa is the first best friend of preschoolers, helping give them the courage to explore and try new things. We know learning – especially at a young age – can be a bit daunting, so Learn with Peppa is there to help little ones learn alongside their trusted best friend and support their development. The fun and familiar setting of Peppa’s world naturally helps make learning fun for children.

What kind of thing does Learn with Peppa include?
There’s a website full of downloadable learning resources, 45 dedicated episodes on the official PEPPA PIG YouTube channel, and a series of educational books developed in conjunction with Penguin Books and other publishers. We recently expanded our offerings with the launch of a new Tonie for the Toniebox to help support their early years learning journey in an easily accessible audio format. Through the program we want to ensure that children find learning to be a joyful experience and take those learnings to grow and jump into life fully!

When you’re looking to publish something new, how do you go from needing an idea to final publication? What’s the process?
It really is a co-creation process with our publishers. As the IP owner, we’re the guardians of our brands. It’s vital that we articulate clearly where we want the brand to go and ensure cohesion with other consumer touchpoints as we activate on a franchise-first model. To do this, we must provide publishers with direction informed by consumer insights and creative guidelines. However, it’s equally essential to allow for a brainstorming stage and let the creative teams and licensing managers feel empowered to share all the ideas they have.

Marie-Cecile Bourdillon, Hasbro, Peppa Pig

Depending on the brand, formats and ambition of the project, both creatively and commercially, the discussions will take longer or shorter to come up with a concept, a complete program or a strong original story. We want our publishing to be creative, strategic, and thoughtful, and we need to think outside the box and take risks

What upcoming ideas can you set us about without giving – without giving too much away, obviously?
Publishing will always be a strong avenue for Peppa. At Hasbro, we don’t consider our brands just characters – they deliver stories, which adds so much more depth to Peppa and our various properties. We plan to continue to tell stories for Peppa and all our brands in a variety of publishing formats – with the potential for anything from cookbooks to comics, podcasts, audio stories and more – to ensure we are connecting with our fans in new and engaging ways!

What’s the one thing I could’ve asked you about today but didn’t?
Sustainability! This is an important value for both Hasbro and Peppa… So you could’ve asked about some of the programs we’ve done to address sustainability.

“Sustainability is is an important value for both Hasbro and Peppa.”

Perfect. Let’s pretend, then, that I had the wit to construct such a great question! What would be the answer? What programs have you created to address sustainability?
Ha! Good question, thank you for asking! Hasbro is committed to taking measurable action to preserve our planet for future generations. We’re extremely grateful for our incredible suite of brands like PEPPA PIG, which holds tremendous influence on families. By leveraging this beloved brand, we can encourage kids and fans to be more ‘green’ and practice sustainability at home.

We’re encouraging sustainability in every step of the process, from storytelling to packaging. For example, we’ve used this year’s refresh of the PEPPA PIG Magazine in the UK as an opportunity to infuse sustainability in our packaging. Thanks to our partners at Egmont Storyhouse, our PEPPA PIG Magazines are sold in plastic-free envelopes.

Marie-Cecile Bourdillon, Hasbro, Peppa Pig

Is that right? It would make quite a difference if all magazines did that.
Right! We also partnered with Tesco and Wastebusters in the UK for Recycle to Read, which focused on rehoming and recycling toys to reduce waste on Earth and get more books into children’s hands. For the program, we distributed Hasrbo branded bins, which leverage Peppa and other Hasbro brands to promote them in Tesco stores where consumers could simply place their unwanted plastic toys to be recycled.

I remember Wastebusters announcing that. A really interesting campaign. How did it go?
By the end of the trial last September, we’d collected over 3,000 broken toys that will now be recycled, and engaged over 12,000 pupils through our joint school initiative and educational materials. Additionally, we delivered around £5,000 of books to schools up and down the country. The trial was deemed a huge success by Tesco, and we’re excited to see what the result will be once the full roll out of the program at all Tesco stores happens later this year.

Well, I’m sincere when I say this: I hope you’ll come back and tell us what more about that nearer the time. Are there any more sustainability updates?
Yes! Another sustainability program near and dear to our hearts – and Peppa’s – was a partnership with Cleaner Seas. Their mission is to give back to our world by cleaning the oceans through the collection of plastic and litter from the beach – better known as seas treasure to Peppa and George! This tied into our entertainment as well, as Peppa has an episode dedicated to sea treasures… It’s all about the adventures of Peppa and George collecting rubbish off the beach. Through the PEPPA PIG series, there are many other episodes and songs that relate to sustainability – probably the most popular being The Peppa Pig Recycle Song.

Brilliant! Thank you so much for making time for us; I really appreciate it. And please do come back and update us on Wastebusters and Tesco.

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