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Licensing International Endorses UNICEF Playbook for Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Advertising

Licensing International Endorses UNICEF Playbook for Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Advertising

By Maura Regan, President, Licensing International

There has been a groundswell of much needed global conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion which have impacted us all. This moment is also a reckoning for brands to be held accountable and make change for future generations. To address this, last February, Licensing International partnered with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media for the first-ever global study of diversity in the licensing business community. With this study we assessed the current state of the industry and established benchmarks to measure progress in advancing D&I over the next year. It was critical for us not only to make a commitment to do better, but to establish a baseline for the industry from which we could measure improvement. This year, despite the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the licensing industry was able to show growth across a myriad of benchmarks posed, but the work continues, and we encourage professionals in our industry to keep the momentum going. Luckily there are continuously new resources to help.

This past month UNICEF, in partnership with the LEGO Group, released a playbook for industry professionals involved with the development and marketing of products and content for children –Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Advertising: A UNICEF Playbook. The playbook, available free for download at addresses diversity and inclusion issues relating to gender, race, ethnicity, and disability as it correlates to advertising and products for children. Included within the playbook is what’s been coined as the “transformative model,” which assess the content directed at children as discriminatory, aware, or transformative. Through this model content can be identified as: Discriminatory against some groups; Demonstrating some awareness of the issues; or as truly transformative in dismantling stereotypes and driving diversity, equity, and inclusion. With the tools provided in the playbook, professionals across industries can make impactful decisions that benefit children and consumers at large.

Resources like these are invaluable to the business of licensing as we move the industry forward and connect with the next generation. With licensing so closely tied to the toy industry, entertainment, and more, the effects our business decisions have on children is a serious matter that needs to be considered across all aspects of marketing, from licensing partnerships and product development to advertising and promotions. We have the power to promote positive representation and enact change so children growing up now, and in the future, have a more equitable world to grow up in.

Licensing International is proud to endorse the playbook, and UNICEF’s ongoing commitment to helping children thrive – which discrimination, stereotypes, and unconscious bias can inhibit. “A thorough review of product marketing shows advertising for children is often gendered, shaping gender roles and expected behavior early in children’s lives, and children need diverse role models in everything from the toys they play with to the commercials they watch,” says Shreyasi Jha, Senior Advisor, Gender Equality, UNICEF. “With our playbook, professionals in the licensing industry and beyond can make decisions that positively impact a child’s perception of themselves, their own empowerment, and the world around them in order for them to reach their full potential.”

Those of us in licensing understand that the business touches so many different verticals, and creating content directed at families and children is something that many of us will eventually experience. Arming ourselves with tools like the UNICEF Playbook can help us all prevent perpetuating harmful stereotypes. In a time where many have become increasingly aware and invested in inclusivity and equality in our personal lives, we can understand that as professionals we hold a deep responsibility to extend those values into everything we do.

Licensing is a powerful tool that businesses can employ and use alongside advertising and marketing as a force for positive change; as we consider how our businesses impact the culture at larger, it’s critical to use learnings from resources like the UNICEF Playbook to hold ourselves and our partners accountable.

Additional information on Licensing International’s research with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and the Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in Advertising: A UNICEF Playbook are available for free at  UNICEF does not endorse any company, brand, product or service.


Before joining Licensing International in 2016, Maura Regan had a successful 17-year career at Sesame Workshop where she served as Senior Vice President and General Manager, International Media Business, and oversaw the Workshop’s international distribution and licensing business. In her current position as President of Licensing International, Maura leverages her vast licensing knowledge and international expertise to further expand the company’s services and aid industry members as they profitably grow their businesses through Licensing International’s unparalleled network of information and membership.

About The Author

Rebecca Ash

Rebecca is the Editorial Director at Total Licensing Ltd. She can be reached at

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