Brand Licensing Europe, the region's leading licensing event, will host 250 exhibitors–90 of them new–with approximately 2,200 brands and properties on exhibition. It's the largest ever show floor with the most exhibitors making Brand Licensing Europe 2011 the biggest in its 12 year history. The film screening suite will again return, popcorn and all; the Licensing Academy welcomes world class names to inspire and to instruct; and the show floor has the best in every category: sport, lifestyle, television, film, publishing and design.
Brand Licensing Europe 2011 will be marked by quality. The new ideas and brands that you'll see on the show floor are the standouts, the most imaginative, the best researched and the ones with the highest possible chance for success. This year, more than any year, retailers should feel confident about the opportunities being presented to them at Brand Licensing Europe.
Forecasted Trends in 2011
In 2010, the aisles were full of people looking for girls' properties. Expect to see the industry respond this year, with major companies like Mattel pitching Barbie as a perfect reflection of fashion, cultural relevance and aspiration (as well as boasting representation in more than 45 categories); Spin Master with its new collectible toy Zoobles; and brand new concepts such as Gem Fairies, born of a greeting card range and represented by JELC.
Last year was a relatively soft year for preschool. This year, there are a number of strong launches including Olly the Little White Van (Ideas at Work); Tilly and Friends (Walker) and Cloudbabies (HoHo Entertainment).
Properties that stem from digital media have come into their own and you can expect to see full blown licensing plans for properties such as Talking Friends from Beanstalk and AT New Media's Worms. The trail is blazed by Moshi Monsters, whose creator Michael Acton Smith will deliver the keynote address Oct. 18 in the Licensing Academy.
Another force to be reckoned with this year will be toy companies marketing their own intellectual properties. Giochi Preziosi, Hasbro, Spin Master and Mattel each own toy concepts with top TV, online and product credentials. They will look to Brand Licensing Europe to expand them into full licensing programs.
Glow Europe, the Belgian company specializing in retail promotions, has turned to creating collectibles, called Bumpeez. The concept launched in the U.K. last month with the support of 40,000 retailers. It forecasts sales of 50 million over the next three years and is at Brand Licensing Europe to find a U.K. agent to take on what Hamleys has called, "the next playground craze."
Fashion and Lifestyle Brands
Lifestyle brands at show include Chupa Chups and Smiley, which is celebrating the opening of its first Smiley store in London. Specialist agency Performance Brands presents Oxford University and The Scout Association U.K. For a different sort of adventuring there is the enduring Dangerous Book for Boys property from Rocket Licensing, which also introduces a licensing program this year for Bruce Lee, the Kung Fu legend. Groovy U.K. has signed the program for bathrobes and Trademark Clothing for t-shirts. Rocket anticipates a strong market for the Bruce Lee brand in fashion, apparel and gift.
Other celebrity brand names on the show floor include Muhammad Ali, Paris Hilton and Tiësto, which will exhibit for the first time this year by The Movement International. The Movement International reported brisk interest from European visitors to its booth at Licensing International Expo 2011 and hopes to build on that in London as Tiësto prepares for his biggest ever DJ tour to date (and the largest DJ tour in history) when he plays 170 venues in 2012. The Movement International will create a limited edition release of apparel for late 2011 and into spring, followed by a full roll out for autumn/winter 2012.
"This is a fashion brand so we're looking to create apparel and accessories," says Martin Cribbs, executive vice president of The Movement International. "Tiësto is one of the most interconnected personalities there is. He walks off the stage and tweets to half a million fans, making a personal connection. His fans and our customers aged 16-25 live by social media, so there is an authentic connection."
Tiësto's famous bird in a circle logo has been developed into different treatments and there are a number of graphics and original photography available for use. The Movement International is working with U.K. consultant Jane Evans, and has a list of target licensees in apparel, footwear and social expressions.
At the Movies
Sony is celebrating the success of this year's The Smurfs feature film, and the second film is due in summer 2013. Sony will also screen Arthur Christmas, a CGI feature made with Aardman Animation, which has an exclusive holiday season product program in Toys 'R' Us. Aardman will also open The Pirates! A Band of Misfits in spring 2012. Men in Black 3 follows in May 2012 and features a fashionable 60s aesthetic and sensibility. Jakks Pacific is the master toy partner and Activision will release a video game featuring the world of all three Men in Black movies. A similar retail model has been implemented for Hotel Transylvania, an animated feature opening autumn 2012 in which Dracula builds a hotel where monsters can retreat from humans.
"What we've learned is to get the retailer interested in the film at a senior level, and then consult the buyers about what they are buying, what are the trends, what events are they planning, etc.," says Gregory Economos, senior vice president of Sony Global Consumer Products.
Leading Universal's product offerings at Brand Licensing Europe is Despicable Me 2, which opens in summer 2013. It's the follow up to the animation featuring Gru, his girls and a vast array of minions. Despicable Me grossed $540 million at the global box office. Universal will also headline Snow White and The Huntsman, opening next summer. The re-telling of the famous fairy tale is produced by Joe Roth and described by Universal as "breathtaking."
Lucasfilm will be on the show floor again this year. It's more than 30 years since Star Wars opened on the big screen and created a collective experience that would have an indelible impact on our entertainment culture. The Star Wars saga is now being released in Blu-Ray.
And last but not least, Mercis BV and its U.K. agent DRi will explain the plans surrounding the launch of Miffy the Movie in spring 2013, with new licensing in some categories.
Brand Licensing Europe offers some of the strongest and best-known international TV brands as well as some very quirky ones. Don't miss the extremely British "This Morning" (ITV) and "The Great British Bake Off" (Metrostar).
FremantleMedia Enterprises is promoting itself as a partner for third party brand representations following its international success with the design led Rebecca Bonbon fashion property. This is also a big year for FME's children's brands–its full Jakks Pacific toy line and the U.S. broadcast for "Monsuno" will launch in the second quarter of 2012. "My Babysitter is a Vampire" has just debuted in Germany, and its preschool show, "Tree Fu Tom," is preparing for launch in the U.K. in 2012.
CPLG presents two distinctly British TV brands this year. The first is "The Only Way Is Essex," known as "TOWIE" by its fans. A fourth series has been commissioned, and licensing partners include Sommerbond, FB Beauty, Fashion U.K. and The Beauty Works. Quite different but just as British is "Downtown Abbey," the hit ITV1 show from Carnival Films that charts the fortunes of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in Downton Abbey. The second season began airing in September and will be followed by a Christmas special. A third series is in development. CPLG has recently announced a direct to retail agreement with Past Times in time for Christmas.
Nickelodeon's portfolio includes the live action series "Victorious" and "Big Time Rush" alongside the Rainbow Productions co-produced "Winx Club" and the new CGI series "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," which debuts on Nickelodeon in the U.S. next fall and elsewhere in the world starting in spring 2013.
BRB will announce the European TV premiere of "Canimals," which is based on characters shaped like tin cans. Tomy is the master toy partner in Europe.
With properties Peppa Pig and Ben 10 moving into more mature phases of licensing, there is an opportunity for other brands to shine through this year. Brands such as Zodiak's Little Princess (the series airs on Milkshake in the U.K.), HIT's Mike the Knight, Chorion's Octonauts and Coolabi's Poppycat are each properties to watch.
Postman Pat celebrates his 30th birthday this year and Classic Media's Nicole Blake told License! Global: "No one will be unaware that it is Postman Pat's birthday."
With new products, TV and a forthcoming movie in 2013, it will be Pat's biggest year yet.
Clive Juster has been working with the simple cell animated character Mr Benn since the first series of same name debuted in the 1970s. In each episode Mr Benn walks into a shop and changes into a costume to have an adventure. It's a property that simply doesn't go away, and Clive Juster & Associates now manages the licensing program. Most of the 30 licensees are for adult and niche products (cufflinks, for example), but the pajama company Tyrrell Katz has taken the first license that will move the brand into the kids market. The long term plan is to realize a big media project that will give Mr Benn a new life for a wider audience. Don't miss the stand, which will look like the shop from the series.
Entertainment One's Humf property will make a bigger entrance this year.
"We have waited for the momentum to build before embarking on a licensing program for 'Humf' and we've got it now," says Andrew Carley of eOne.
eOne is looking for new partners to supplement the first licensed products that will launch later this year and into 2012. eOne will also explain its next plans for the Peppa Pig program; it will launch in European territories where there is already strong broadcast such as Spain, Portugal, Australia, Italy, Benelux and Nordic, with a strong focus on promotions, fast moving consumer goods and digital partners for the U.K. The brand exceeded £200 million in U.K. merchandise sales in 2010.
Digital Media Brands
Talking Friends, the mobile game from Outfit 7, is represented by Beanstalk and the brand will be a major focus for the agency this year. It's been a year since the game's launch and since had over 150 million downloads.
"Digital brands are developing at a more accelerated pace than traditional brands and the level of engagement is very different. The consumer is in control and telling you to what extent they are interested in it. The challenge is to take the digital property and give it physical elements," says Ciaran Coyle, managing director, Beanstalk.
Talking Friends was signed at Licensing International Expo and deals are already in negotiation for gift and novelty, footwear, home décor, apparel and travel retail in North America, Asia and Europe.
AT New Media brings the video game brand, Worms, which was launched in 1995 and now appears on 20 gaming platforms with 30 million retail copies sold to date. "Worms 4: Mayhem" releases later this year, promising more hilarity and high jinks.
V&A Licensing is the torch bearer for art and design licensing with still more partners being inspired by material in the Victoria and Albert Museum archive to produce distinctive and beautiful products.
Recent inspirations include a V&A range by Radley, the U.K. handbag and accessories company; a selection of gloves inspired by the touring exhibition "The Cult of Beauty" by U.S. licensee Ethel Gloves; and birch wood trays made by Swedish company Ary Trays using a design by architect Baillie Scott.
Animaru, last year's winner of the Licensing Challenge License This! competition, is launching this year with a fully formed strategy for its hundreds of animal icons. You can see the style guide at its stand. Current plans include a publishing and trading card concept for youngsters.
Plus Licens introduces Little Pink & Brokiga Friends, a picture book and design property by Stina Wirsen, one of Sweden's most renowned artists and illustrators. The property is already very popular in Japan and now the first Little Pink & Brokiga title has been published in Belgium by NV WPG Uitgevers.
MGL's Valentina Ramos worked 15 years as a graphic designer before branching out into her bright, colorful work. A full range of products launch worldwide in 2012.
F2D2, the French licensing federation, is hosting a pavilion of French companies. It includes icons of French culture such as the Tour de France and the Moulin Rouge, as well as TF1 Licences, which is introducing the French classic literary brand Barbapapa. Moonscoop will present its preschool series "Chloe's Closet," and Editions Albert-Rene brings Asterix, the plucky Gaul, to focus on international markets and to celebrate the new live action movie coming in 2012. The property has 50 licensees around Europe, and a deal was recently signed with SEE Virtual Worlds for an Asterix online game.
"The deal with SEE reflects our international ambitions and we will have the pleasure to announce other deals at BLE this year," says Baptiste Cazaux, head of licensing for Editions Albert-Rene.
Alphanim is also in the F2D2 pavilion, introducing its plans for the 50-year-old European classic preschool series "Calimero" after being appointed agent, distributor and licensor for the new series. It will appoint agents across Europe and will shortly announce the master toy partner. Calimero originated in Italy, and now the brand has a new look, new series and new positioning to re-introduce it to children getting to know it for the first time.
"We are known for taking existing properties and refreshing them," says Gregory Pierron of Alphanim. "Calimero is something really big that we all grew up with. The potential is for the brand to be licensed into traditional categories and also, for the first time, to introduce it to others."
Niche publishing programs such as for Dear Zoo and The Gruffalo, which serve the department and independent retail sector, have been proliferating in the U.K. and this year there will be even more treasures at Brand Licensing Europe.
Walker Books, a giant in this field, will highlight Maisy, Guess How Much I Love You and Tilly and Friends, its preschool commission for CBeebies. DRi brings Roald Dahl, Start Licensing offers Jacqueline Wilson, Caroline Mickler presents the Moomins and Chorion exhibits its stable of classics including Eric Carle and Paddington Bear.
New to the floor is Winnie the Witch, which centers on the eccentric, colorful and unusual character created by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul and published by Oxford University Press. Metrostar will manage the licensing. Madcap Winnie and her black cat Wilbur have a highly distinctive look and Metrostar is looking for partners to make puzzles, games, apparel, stationery, greetings, plush and dress up.
"I think literary brands are underrepresented and when they come out the products are generally gorgeous," says Clare Potter, managing director for Metrostar. "Retailers understand the value of books like Winnie the Witch and they appreciate just how much love and craft have gone into them and made them so strong."
Where's Wally/Where's Waldo will be 25 in 2012.
"With the Wally property, we have taken a market by market approach led by the success of the books and the app, and found that our patience is being rewarded," says Nicole Blake, executive vice president, global marketing and consumer products, Classic Media. "Wally has a play pattern, even though it's a book, and people of all ages understand it. The books are known globally and the Where's Wally app has had four million downloads–this is one of very few brands that is truly global."
The Big Interview with Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing
Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, will be the subject of The Big Interview at this year's Licensing Academy.
There are few people closer to the Star Wars brand and the secrets behind its success than Roffman. In The Big Interview, Roffman will discuss his work with the Star Wars brand, the keys to its longevity and the plans for its future. Roffman will share his unique insight into what it is like to work with the "Force" and to unite three generations of fans.