The BBC is launching a sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand based on its Blue Planet and Planet Earth series, in an effort to capitalise on viewers inspired by the shows and presenter David Attenborough’s warnings about the effect humankind is having on the world.
Eco-friendly clothing, homewares and books are being rolled out under the umbrella of BBC Planet, which will act as a kind of kitemark for those who want to change their buying habits and choose more sustainably made products.
The brand is kicking off during London fashion week with a collection of sustainable clothes, including sweatshirts from ethical producer Mother of Pearl, made using a dyeing process that uses 10 times less water than conventional methods.
Also on the cards are live BBC Planet hi-tech shows on a giant screen, as well as events and education programmes. The BBC hopes these meet the demand for more information from viewers, particularly younger ones, about how they can make more careful consumption choices.
It comes off the back of the effect Blue Planet II had on audiences after the series highlighted the scale of plastic pollution in oceans. It was the most-watched British TV show of 2017 and led to a greater awareness of the devastating effect humans have had on marine life. It had a political effect too, prompting the environment secretary, Michael Gove, to announce changes to recycling schemes and a consultation on banning plastic straws.
Coupled with Attenborough’s warnings about the damage humans are doing to the planet, most recently to global leaders at the Economic World Forum in Davos, the BBC said it wanted to help shoppers make ethical decisions.
Julia Kenyon, a global brands director at the BBC, said: “The BBC is seeking to partner with trailblazers who are providing solutions to how we consume so that we as individuals can become a part of the solution and work towards a sustainable future.”
BBC Planet is expected to be well received at next week’s BBC Studios showcase, an annual sales event for the corporation’s shows. More than 1 billion people have watched Planet Earth, Blue Planet and their sequels, according to BBC figures. A scene in Planet Earth II some have called “Iguana v snakes” won most popular TV moment of 2017 at the Baftas.
The BBC recently announced a run of new natural history shows, including two fronted by Attenborough called Green Planet and One Planet, Seven Worlds. The move follows forays by competitors into the natural history television, including Netflix with Our Planet, a series also narrated by Attenborough.
Although much of BBC Planet will arguably come under the corporation’s public service mission, it will also make money at a time of expected cuts to funding. The BBC faces having to shoulder the cost of free TV licence fees for the over-75s.
Despite being funded by the licence fee, the BBC is allowed to make money through its commercial arm, BBC Studios. It makes millions of pounds by selling TV shows and merchandise around series such as Top Gear and Doctor Who.