Exclusive: Dr Amanda Gummer talks about hosting the Good Play Guide’s first major virtual event

The founder and CEO of Good Play Guide, speaks about how Play At Home Fest went from being a raw concept to a massive event that will offer families worldwide access to some of the biggest brands in the toy and entertainment business!

Written by Georgie Dobie

Posted 22.05.2020

Exclusive: Dr Amanda Gummer talks about hosting the Good Play Guide’s first major virtual event thumbnail

Amanda Gummer, founder and CEO of Good Play Guide, sat down with TNP.MEDIA to chat about Play At Home Fest. She speaks about her early vision for a virtual family festival that would both highlight the importance of play and help brands maximise their exposure during a challenging time when traditional marketing campaigns have been cancelled or are struggling to gain traction.

Have you run an event like this before in a non-digital format? 

In the past, we have typically run activities and had a presence at set locations or big events.  
Last summer, our team of experts toured the UK to introduce the nation’s children and families to products from the Good Toy Guide. We took The Good Toy Zone to festivals including, CarFest, Great British Food Fest, and the 3foot People Festival – we had play zones with The Entertainer, and we also launched a new partnership with 360 Play.  

These events offered great exposure for toy companies. We helped toy brands showcase their great portfolio of products, putting their Good Toy Guide accredited products into the hands of children and families in a successful and experiential marketing environment.  

Where did the idea for Play At Home Fest come from? 

With the outbreak of coronavirus, it was clear that events would either be cancelled or would struggle to a tract the visitors they needed to make it a good investment for toy companies, and non-essential retail stores have had to temporarily close their doors.  

I had the idea for Play At Home Fest quite early on during lockdown. When the country was placed into lockdown and schools were largely closed, I had real concerns about the impact of coronavirus on children’s mental health, and I wanted to be able to offer families a fun and engaging event that would entertain children.  

I also wanted to be able to offer the brands who had already partnered with us, for events this year, another way to showcase their products and properties, engaging with children and families in a fun-filled environment.  

How did you go about planning the logistics for the event? 

After I had the idea, we did a bit of research about hosting a virtual event via a website, and it really wasn’t that complicated to stream content. 

So, then it was really about whetting the appetite of brands. I was blown away by the amount of interest that we had for the event. There was so much support – we had so many companies wanting to get involved – and we continue to receive interest even days before the event. Cut off for brands to join in the fun was a couple of weeks prior to the event, but we look forward to getting brands who were not able to join in this time involved in the future, when we run something similar.

It’s been so great to have the 3foot People Festival team involved. Their event was cancelled due to the outbreak, but they’re putting all of their experience and expertise into running one of the stages for us. So that’s great! 

What was a bit more of a challenge was organising the event with a small team, but I really am so proud of how the team pulled together and how much we have all achieved.  

What makes this event so special, especially under the current circumstances? 

This is a time of unprecedented uncertainty. We really don’t know how long it will be until some level of normality can resume.

Parents are largely having to home-school their children, while also having to either continue working, or at least manage through a time of financial pressure. And children are also at risk of having their mental health negatively impacted upon by the social distancing measures that are in place.

What we’re finding during this time is that toys are becoming ever more recognised as a means of providing both entertainment and education. And this event really presents an opportunity for brands to not only support the families and children, who are spending more time at home amid the outbreak, but also help champion the importance of play. As this is a not-for-profit event we’ve been able to offer brands great value opportunities to help everyone thrive during the Covid 19 crisis.

The event is so full of different activities and rich content. How did you go about planning everything that you have on offer?

When we first began thinking about the event, we all had lots of ideas for activities that would work well as part of a festival format. We worked with brands, based on their offering, and came up with a fantastic programme that we’re sure kids of all ages will love.

From toys, to crafts, to music and entertainment, to dance, there will be so many acts to entertain the virtual festival goers.

And many of the brands have also created resources and activities to make up special activity packs for Play At Home Fest attendees to enjoy. Offering a further opportunity to engage little ones and their families.  

What uptake have you had so far in terms of consumers signing up to the event?  

The last time I checked, we had over 13,000 sign-ups for the event, with many more registering each day from and increasingly international audience. We’ve been working hard in the run-up to the weekend to publicise Play At Home Fest, particular via social media channels which seems to be going viral os we’re really excited.  

Tickets are free, with optional charitable donations to National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal and/or Theodora Children’s Charity. And we ask families to register each festival goer, (tickets are offered for: under-fives; five to nine years; 10 to 14 years; and adult 14-plus) and all registered households receive a free activity pack to help them make the most of the event.    

What opportunities does Play At Home Fest present for toy brands and licensors? 

This isn’t a selling event. But what it does offer companies is an opportunity to raise brand awareness. Toy businesses and licensors have an opportunity with Play At Home Fest to get their brands and products in front of thousands of children and parents, in a really engaging format.  

Not only that, but at a time like this, it’s critical that brands are seen to be ‘one of the good guys’ who have proactively helped to support families, children, and frontline efforts, working with a sense of togetherness.  

The final lineup for Play At Home Fest will ensure that the clients who have supported the event will enjoy maximum exposure during a time where traditional marketing campaigns are struggling to gain any real traction or have had to be cancelled altogether. We are thrilled to be able to offer this event to support brands during this difficult time, while further highlighting the importance of play. 

Have you thought about how this event may run in the future?  

Once we’ve run this event, we definitely will look to run something similar in the future. Maybe another lockdown event, but we’re also thinking about October and February half-terms for future Play At Home Fests.  

Play At Home Fest is to be held this bank holiday weekend: 23-24 May, streaming worldwide!  

Book your tickets and find out more here: https://playathomefest.com  

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