sinking feeling blue zoo

Building Better: Blue Zoo’s new B Corp path

New year, new strategies—in this feature series, Kidscreen looks at companies that are baking social purpose into their approach to business.
January 7, 2022

Kids have made it very well known that they want to support companies trying to have a positive social impact on the world—86% of eight- to 14-year-olds globally say they prefer to buy from brands that align with their values, according to 2020 data from Marketcast Kids. Trust is one of the most important factors for kids when it comes to making purchases, and that could drive a lot of business heading into 2022, according to The Insights Family. Most employees (six in 10) are also increasingly interested in working for companies that share their values, as per 2021 report from global PR firm Edelman.  

In this new Building Better series, we’re looking at companies implementing new strategies that aren’t just good for humanity and the planet, but also for their bottom lines. 

London-based Blue Zoo Animation Studios originally decided to pursue B Corp status as a means of attracting more talent, but it very quickly changed the company’s whole outlook on business, says co-founder Tom Box.

The B Corp badge—which means the company meets certain standards around sustainability and transparency—signals to perspective employees that the studio cares about carbon reduction, corporate transparency and the global community at large, he says. It also provides a roadmap for the organization to be a better corporate citizen.

Managed by Pennsylvania-based B Lab, B Corp certifies companies operating in any industry. This neutral third party scores organizations against sustainability goals and employment practices, such as providing living wages, giving back to the community and engaging in fair labor practices. There are more than 4,000 B Corps worldwide across 77 countries, including Ben & Jerry’s and The Body Shop. But none were pure-play animation studios—until Blue Zoo’s accreditation.

To achieve this status, Blue Zoo switched its offices to green energy, implemented various carbon reduction goals, created new policies for staff (such as giving employees time off for miscarriages) and began a vetting process to ensure that its partners were paying their workers at least a minimum wage.

Blue Zoo’s programming has an obvious educational bent, particularly around math and literacy. And the animation studio behind Netflix’s CG-animated Big Tree City and CBBC’s 2D-animated Supertato plans to use the principles of its sustainability program as a framework for new content going forward. The company will expand its focus to look at other educational topics for preschoolers and bake messages of sustainability and transparency into all of its development projects—Box expects to begin making announcements along these lines in the coming months.

Besides content, Blue Zoo is also working on a new commitment to providing pro bono work to nonprofit orgs tackling difficult topics. The studio’s past non-commercial projects have tended to focus on bringing internal ideas to life, but now it’s working to support a variety of causes with its animation services. In 2021, Blue Zoo created an animated short called Sinking Feeling (pictured) about suicide prevention for UK charity PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide that launched on YouTube last fall.

Next up and starting production this month is a new animated short with Beyond Equality, a charitable organization focused on gender-parity causes. To staff the project, Blue Zoo plans to hire paid interns who will be mentored by the studio’s team, says Box. And the longer-term goal will be to do at least one pro bono project a year.

The B Corp certification should be an ongoing call to action for Blue Zoo to not get complacent when it comes to its progress. Companies have to reapply every three years to maintain their accreditation, and each time, they must show proof that they’re making continued efforts to be sustainable, transparent and supportive of employees. 

Moving forward, Blue Zoo hopes to promote the benefits of getting certified to other kidcos, says Box. “[Audiences] want more companies that are making efforts to be better and not just giving lip service, and the hope is that other companies worldwide will pursue certification or think about how they can do better.”

If your company is changing how it does business in ways that benefit the greater good, it could be a fit for this series. Please reach out to Ryan Tuchow at rtuchow@brunico.com to share your story. 

About The Author
News editor for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com

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