MV Sports’ Phil Ratcliffe on capturing the personality of PEPPA PIG in wheeled toys

“The demographic for the brand fits perfectly with the pre-school wheeled toy user”: MV Sports MD Phil Ratcliffe talks design, innovation and Peppa Pig.

Phil, it’s great to catch up. We’re here to dive into your PEPPA PIG range as the brand celebrates its 20th anniversary. Why do you feel PEPPA has resonated to such a degree with kids – and parents – over the years?
I think to some extent PEPPA PIG mirrors real family life. We can all see a bit of ourselves and our family members in the characters. For kids, the gentle humour and unpretentious animation resonates perfectly with their everyday experiences – and there is always a cheeky subtext which appeals to mum and dad.

Parents have no qualms about watching the show with their children because of it wholesome appeal and the best licensed products also capture the essence of the show.

Phil Ratcliffe, MV Sports, Peppa Pig

On that, MV Sports has great experience with licensed ranges. What makes Peppa a good fit for your category?
The demographic for PEPPA PIG fits perfectly with the core pre-school wheeled toy user and purchaser… For example, a first trike, bike or scooter bought by a parent for their pre-schooler. The show has a very outdoorsy feel with muddy puddles and such. Ride on products feature a lot in the TV series and makes little ones curious about the fun and enjoyment involved with learning to scoot, skate or cycle.

“The distinctive 2D style graphics are perfectly suited for large areas such as plaques, footplates and chainguards.”

In terms of your design-thinking, what makes Peppa an exciting IP to create product for?
It’s great to work on because of the distinctive 2D style graphics which are perfectly suited for large areas such as plaques, footplates and chainguards. We always try to encapsulate some of the humour and personality of the characters. For us, it’s the signature pink and blue ‘splat’ logo has become iconic which are instantly recognisable.

Let’s dive into the range. Can you talk us through a few stand-out products?
This year we are launching a PEPPA PIG Squishle; a scooter with a soft squishable storage pouch mounted on the handlebar. It’s great for stashing those little trinkets and stuff that kids collect outside or want to take with them such as hair bobbles and sweets. The pouches are washable and have a waterproof lining which helps when they get left outside in the rain.

Another highlight is our new PEPPA PIG Bumpercar. It evokes all the fun of the fair, where kids can ride and spin to their hearts content.

Phil Ratcliffe, MV Sports, Peppa Pig

Great picks. And your My First Lights and Sounds Ride On injects a great deal of storytelling into a ride-on in quite a novel way – with the rotating characters. How do you approach innovating in a sector like this, where things like scooters and ride-ons have certain ‘must haves’ design-wise?
We try to capture the essence of the character on the product where possible. Apart from the products just mentioned, we add little extras such as lights in the wheels or baskets on the bikes to add value. We also have a ride on car which is a replica of the iconic Pig family car from the TV series!

Phil Ratcliffe, MV Sports, Peppa Pig

Sold! Phil, I have one last question. What fuels the creativity of your design team? What helps them have ideas?
Sometimes the characters lead the design process, and other times it’s driven by the category’s latest trends or technology.

Great. Thanks again Phil.

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