How to fix the TOTY Awards

Richardglobalheader (4)
In my last posting, I spoke about my concerns regarding the TOTY Awards.  Simply put, too few companies win too many awards.  So, what can be done?  Here is an idea:  Make the awards about people instead of products and companies.

Mattel is not going to get a raise, Hasbro is not going to get a date and Leapfrog is not going to get into a better college because they won a TOTY.  Why, because they’re not people.  In fact, not one of these companies is going to sell a single additional unit of product because of the awards.  They are timed to fall almost two months after Christmas, so for all extents and purposes the awards are after the fact. 

So, instead of honoring the toy, honor the people who invent the toy; design the toy; manufacture the toy, market the toy and sell the toy.  Think about it for a minute: someone had to go out and sell that toy.  If they had not, it would never have gotten to market.  So, wouldn’t it be nice to honor the man or woman who invested the intelligence, the time, the hard work, the energy and the focus to sell the toy? 

So how about these awards categories:

  • Salesperson of the Year
  • Designer of the Year
  • Publicist of the Year
  • Marketer of the Year
  • Agent of the Year
  • Advertiser of the Year
  • Entrepreneur of the Year

Wouldn’t it be nice to see human being get credit and have their career advance because of their hard work, intelligence and inspiration?

That's my proposal?  What's your's?

10 thoughts

  1. Nice information you shared here and is informative also. A toy is an item that is used in play, especially one designed for such use. Playing with toys can be an enjoyable means of training young children for life in society. Different materials like wood, clay, paper, and plastic are used to make toys.

  2. I am new to this. I own a small company and produce 5 products, one of which we nominated in the specialty category. This is a valid discussion because honestly when I entered the product I knew our chances were probably slim, very slim. I love the idea of there being a category (or more) that is for the newbies or just the smaller companies in general. Some pretty good ideas come from the minds of entrepreneurs. So my question for you all is in regard to the Toy Fair. Is there a way for a small company to have a presence there by joining forces with others? I have always thought that should be an option…have an area that is “community owned” by several companies. Your thoughts or ideas?
    thanks! Whitney

  3. This is a great suggestion, Richard, but I think I lean toward many of the comments here in that 1) there are existing award ceremonies that recognize people, 2) recognizing the company who developed the toys is like recognizing the producer of the Best-Film winner, and typically all individuals associated with the movie benefit from the award, and 3) in the end, it is about the party and the event.
    Maybe one suggestion would be to make it easier for nominees to attend the event (since small companies might have difficulties) and provide some marketing support so that a small company can lobby for its product with judges. Just like the Oscars, it’s political, and those with the most clout have the most influence. If you want to make it more fair, then level the playing field for all participants. Regardless, no easy fix.
    Just my 4 cents (one better than Justin :])

  4. This is a great start.. to open up the awards categories. But there is great value in celebrating the great toys themselves as well. The root of it, I think, lies in the fact that Toy Fair is so much about the big companies, TY, Lego, Mattel etc.. Sure there are hundreds of booths there, but for my own little company, there is a big barrier to entry to even attending as an exhibitor. Fortunately there is a wonderfully long tail in the toy industry.. there are lots of great awards programs out there.. and there is great interest and support from independent retailers. I don’t think the problem is with Toy Fair or ToTY themselves–they are what they are, and they have a place just like the big record companies and the Grammy Awards have a place .. it’s just about the need to balance them out.. if we wanted to “fix” this.. either with some kind of an indie toy toy fair or indie awards under the auspices of the big daddy would be another approach..
    that’s my humble thoughts on the matter.. Matt, Aroundsquare Ltd.

  5. Richard,
    As always, a great discussion. I come back to – what is the purpose of the award? Is it for industry peers to recognize each other? Is it for the public to have guidance on what we think is the “best”. Is it an excuse to have a party 🙂 I think we need to agree on the purpose and that will lead to solutions. As it stands, It seems that the constraint is choosing from among the nominees. So, a mechanism that allows for more nominees would allow for more choice. You could have categories for companies by size, or distribution channels (mass, specialty etc). Thanks for taking on the issue.

  6. I agree with the commenters that it should continue to focus on great toys and games, but I think the criteria and categories must be changed to allow the innovation from the small players to rise to the top for recognition.There should actually be limitations to the toy’s distribution and sales/units, so big guys cannot compete in those categories.

  7. Richard, I have been suggesting this for many years to many people, but have been met with opposition. There were a few people who agreed, but not enough.

  8. Our company won a Specialty TOTY in 2010 and for myself being a cofounder of the company and toy designer, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my career. With that said, I think in larger companies, isolating a specific designer or marketer opens a huge can of worms… when specifically when a product wins a category, the praise and excitement is shared among ALL the people that made that toy great. Great designers (lumping in inventors here too), great designers are balanced by great engineers, great marketers balanced by great product… and so on, and frankly, ALL are balanced by great admins. Don’t get me wrong, when I was in the trenches as an in-house designer, it would have been great to be singled out… but I think the politics of a big company and ego’s involved would make it nearly impossible… my 3-cents.

  9. I feel that getting rid of the “product” side of things will put the TOTYs in competition with the TAGIEs and the WIT awards. I would continue with the categories they have but I agree with you that they should recognize the people behind the products — not just the products themselves. They should recognize the inventor, designer, brand manager, etc. — all the key people who made the product a success. I think the TOTYs have the right idea about awarding good product, but it definitely feels very biased toward the big manufacturers. So my question would be — how do you encourage the judges to vote for new, unique product without losing sponsors and attendees?

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