Ain’t bot no, I got life …it’s John Baulch’s Friday Blog!

After last week’s Blog focused on reducing headcounts and increasing automation within certain retail organisations, it has been interesting to see the whole ChatGPT/AI debate blow up in the media this week. (For the uninitiated, ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology that can answer questions and assist with tasks like, for example, composing articles.)

Cue a tsunami of people saying “ah, but it couldn’t replace my job”, and in the majority of cases, you won’t be surprised to find out I completely agree – although I suspect a few might get a rude surprise they’re not expecting. Personally, I am confident that we’ll be fine – sure, some B2B magazines already read like they have been written by ChatGPT, but good luck getting AI to replicate this Blog or what we do at Toy World. I reckon I’m safe for a while yet…

Meanwhile, as the UK toy community continues to wait patiently for the majors to confirm their autumn winter selections (one for those in the ‘all toy trade shows should be in September’ camp to ponder…), a lot of the bigger news stories of this week have come from the licensing world.

It’s good to see that popular licensing industry stalwart Mark Kingston is back, having joined Zag in the newly created role of senior vice president, Global Consumer Products. Nice to see Mark return to the fold, and I am sure he will make a big difference at Zag.

Conversely, all is not quite so rosy over at Disney. Back in February, the company announced it would be making 7,000 people redundant, and that process has now begun. Its metaverse division has been closed, which is arguably no great surprise, as it never outlined what it actually planned to do in the metaverse in the first place, beyond a vague statement that it was creating “unparalleled opportunities for consumers to engage with its products and platforms”. Perhaps more surprising was the departure of Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter, as the Marvel Entertainment division became another casualty of the cuts this week. In an intriguing backstory worthy of a Netflix (or Disney+) mini-series, it seems there was some unfinished business over a disagreement between Perlmutter and Disney CEO Bob Iger dating back to 2015, and it appears that the bad blood between the two has finally caught up with Ike. Beware the Ides of March indeed…et tu Iger.


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