Wow, what a day – where to begin?! I guess we should start by thanking our attendees – your enthusiasm, ideas and smiles made this the most wonderful day to be involved with, I’ve got no doubt we’ll all be talking about it for a very long time.
So what’s the story? What did we do and why on earth did we do it? The inspiration behind the event was a rumour we heard. A good friend of Paladone’s, Dan Flanagan (http://www.dontbelievethehype.biz/) told us that Dads quite often feel left out at playdates – sometime they’re the only Dad there and find it hard to get involved with the gaggle of Mums who seem to be speaking a different language! That’s not fair at all (thought Paladone), time for a change! Hence was born #dadsplaydate – an only-Dads-and-kids-invited event, planned to be the best playdate EVER! Did we achieve this? You decide….;
The event was kept pretty secret from the outset – the first our Dads heard of it was a very simple ‘save the date’. They knew they’d been carefully selected for their prowess amongst the world of Dad bloggers, but that was pretty much it! Over the next 6 weeks we’d give them a series of clues for them and their children to decipher, giving them further hints as to what the day might involved.
One blogger, @diaryofthedad put the clues together and came up with ‘So we’ll be on a bus that’s driving around the Sussex coast while pitching Dragons’ Den-style ideas to a reanimated Albert Einstein for a series to be shown on the Discovery Channel?’
He wasn’t too far off….
8:30am on a slightly wet and windy Saturday morning saw our adventurers arrive for a quick bacon sarnie and a kick-about at Paladone HQ. By this point most had figured out that we, Paladone (designer of gifts, gadgets and toys for the world’s biggest brands like Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Discovery Channel and many more) would be the hosts for the day. What they didn’t realise that they were actually been taken to a completely different location for the first half of the event.
At 9am we boarded the Big Lemon Bus and headed to the famous Connaught Cinema in Worthing. With popcorn and fizzy pop in hand our slightly confused guests made their way into a private screen to watch a bespoke film that highlighted the various brands that inspire Paladone’s products plus clips from upcoming movies The BFG, Rogue One and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
After the cinema and with rain putting off plan A (a picnic at Splashpoint), plan B kicked in and it was off to the Lido, also in Worthing. Here the children and Dads spent the rest of the morning on funfair rides, playing arcade machines and wolfing down some lunch to get their energy up for the afternoon activities. This was also the first appearance of some Paladone’s outdoor products including our Pac-Man Ghost Tent and the Discovery Smartphone Microscope.
Fully refreshed it was back to Paladone HQ, and as the Big Lemon Bus pulled up at our gates, it was plain to see that everyone was buzzing – it was the Willy Wonka moment that they’d been promised in one of the clues – and no surprises really, not only is it the hub of all our designs, it also contains our warehouse with 4500 pallets full of toys! We kicked things off with a tour – the hi-vis jackets didn’t quite fit everyone but we made it work! The kids had made paper aeroplanes on the return bus journey so we sent them to the roof of our warehouse to see how far they would fly.
A brief explanation of our business cycle followed – how this year we’ll design 240 new products, how they’ll take 12 months to develop hence why we’re currently planning for Christmas 2017, how we expect for over 10 million of our products to be distributed around the globe to 77 different countries and how our 100 full-time staff across 14 departments work to complete this mammoth task each year. At the end of the tour we reached the pinnacle of our event – the showroom. Before entering the kids were fairly warned that it was a very tidy showroom, with everything set out carefully in it’s place. Their little faces dropped as they assumed that they weren’t going to be able to touch anything so we quickly let the cat out of the bag and informed them that there were no rules in the showroom today – they could unbox everything, play with everything and it didn’t matter if things got broken.
The team at Paladone had to take cover from the stampede that followed – the doors were flung open and the assault began. You can imagine what followed – like kids in a candy store, or more accurately a toy store – shelves were emptied onto the floor and every gift, gadget and toy that Paladone had to offer was put through it’s paces – and not just by the kids as you can see from our photo gallery!
An hour later we crowbarred our happy clan out of the showroom and back into the boardroom to reveal the final element of the day – Paladone’s Den! They would have one hour to come up with ‘the next big thing’ – their dream toy or gadget that they’d love to see on the shop shelves. We provided them with a pile of craft supplies but the rest would be up to them.
Throughout the next hour a team of industry professionals circulated and advised. We’d arranged for representatives from Discovery Channel and iwantoneofthose.com to attend, alongside graphic designers and new product developers from our own team. Finally, the young inventors presented their ideas in our boardroom to our industry professionals. The level of presenting among such young children was impressive, as were their ideas. Perhaps we should invite kids in more often to help us figure out what to invent next!
Awards were given for all the inventions, which included two new egg cups (The Incredible Hulk with an egg-smashing fist attachment and R2-D2 with his own egg-top-remover), a whole new concept for a video game combining VR glasses and traditional trading/top trump cards (called ‘Blast Baddies’), plus a whole Star Wars ‘man-scaping’ range with the ingenious slogan ‘The Face Awakens’! Our guests left as planned – tired, but grinning from ear-to-ear and laden with goody bags stuffed with gifts and vouchers from Paladone, Discovery Channel, iwantoneofthose.com and findmeagift.com. A great day had by all.