In October, the European licensing community will get together for its biggest networking and deal-making event of the year: Brand Licensing Europe.
This year Brand Licensing Europe, which will be held Oct. 16-18 in London, is 25 percent larger than last year, making this its 13th year of consecutive growth. Pre-registration has opened strongly and marketing efforts are, as always, focused on attracting the most relevant retailers and licensees from around the globe.
Big Names and Programs
For 2012, Brand Licensing Europe welcomes back two of the biggest entertainment names in the industry: Disney Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Consumer Products. In addition to having every major film studio exhibiting this year, every other facet of entertainment–from video games to television–is also represented including Turner CN Enterprises, DreamWorks, Mattel, Hasbro, Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products, BBC Worldwide, Ubisoft, Sony Computer Entertainment and Mind Candy, founders of the online community Moshi Monsters.
Brand Licensing Europe's Retail Mentoring Programme will mentor 40 buyers from leading retailers this year; the Advice Centre (sponsored by 24IP Law Group), which offers a range of specialist services and consultations on topics including intellectual property law, accountancy, royalty services and patent development and protection, is full; and the Retail Buyers' Lounge will be in full swing again to guide buyers during their visit.
"This year is promising to be as strong a show as we have ever experienced," says Jessica Blue, event director, Brand Licensing Europe. "The show floor is a comprehensive representation of the biggest brands in entertainment licensing, and there are more lifestyle, music, sport and fashion names than ever before. The Licensing Academy is shaping up to offer some of our most inspiring speakers, and the fact that 75 buyers have taken part in our Retail Mentoring Programme will further strengthen the retail focus in 2012."
It's likely that film franchise brands will be a top trend at Brand Licensing Europe this year. The screening suite, with the promise of glimpses of the hottest forthcoming film releases, has a complete schedule and every major studio is on the show floor. Disney, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Sony, Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox will all be promoting their classic brands and new launches.
According to a report issued by The NPD Group in July, the importance of film for the U.K. licensing industry is very high, and NPD predicts that Spider-Man toys will generate £45 million in retail sales in the region.
"Our films and characters resonate with a worldwide audience, and the goal is to extend that experience beyond the movie theatre and into the home," says Sheila Clarke, head of international consumer products, DreamWorks Consumer Products.
Marianthi O'Dwyer, vice president, licensing, The Walt Disney Company U.K. and Ireland, says Brand Licensing Europe is an opportunity to showcase the vast portfolio of properties for fall/winter 2013.
"The heritage and strength of the Disney and Marvel brands make us different from other licensing companies in the marketplace today," says O'Dwyer. "This event will provide a great platform to further the dialogue with our licensees and retail partners to ensure we deliver first class, high quality products to our end consumer."
"Brand Licensing Europe is a very effective and efficient way for us to connect with key retailers, potential new partners and our existing customers," says Pilar Zulueta, executive vice president and general manager, Warner Bros. Consumer Products EMEA. "We look forward to returning with an exciting slate of licensing opportunities that will re-affirm our position, offering the broadest portfolio of brands that ensure long-term commercial growth for our partners."
Companies big and small will populate the aisles–those you've heard of and those you haven't–all with something to offer.
In total there are 240 exhibitors on the show floor to date, 85 of them new. Companies new to Brand Licensing Europe this year include MGA Entertainment, Silvergate Media, Hot Pickle and Endemol. Heritage brands are well represented with the Museum of London, British Museum, National Maritime Museum and The British Library on board for the first time. AC Milan/adidas and AS Roma add to the roster of sports brands on the floor this year. From mainland Europe, Brand Licensing Europe welcomes Dracco, Televisa Internacional and magazine company Lagardare Active Enterprises. Bavaria Sonor Musik joins a number of music brands this year, including those represented by Live Nation, Event Merchandising and Elvis Presley Enterprises.
Art and Design
This section of the show floor is home to some of the most stylish, distinctive and cutting edge concepts. Here you'll find ideas at all stages of commercial development, from artists and illustrators just starting out to complete design concepts such as last year's License This! winner, How To for the Domestically Inept from Two Little Boys; the photographs of Jacky Al Samarraie; and the work of the agency MGL.
Illustrator Helz Cuppleditch, who made her successful debut last year, will moderate a Licensing Academy panel dedicated to design and art licensing, highlighting the benefits for retailers and licensees of working with an artist to develop distinctive products.
The 2012 Licensing Academy Sponsored by License! Global
Last year's Licensing Academy was attended by nearly 1,000 people, attracted by the chance to learn about contracts or licensed promotions and to listen to the industry's most inspiring figures talk about their work.
The keynote speakers last year were Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy and creator of Moshi Monsters, and Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing. This year's keynotes will be announced soon.
Among the highlights announced so far this year is a presentation given by Brand Licensing Europe's three official knowledge partners. Planet Retail, GfK and the NPD Group will offer exclusive insight into the state of the industry and the areas of greatest opportunity for growth.
The judging panel for the 2012 License This! competition, a component of the Licensing Academy that strives to find the next hot new property, has also been announced. It will be chaired by Richard Hollis, BBC Worldwide, with Helen Howells of hoho Entertainment, Warren Traeger of London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Jay Young of Warner Bros. Consumer Products also on the panel.