Brand Licensing Europe is here again. Happily, it's an opportunity to be immersed for three days in the optimism and "glass half full" attitude that fuels the licensing industry.
The word on the street is that it's even tougher to sell concepts and shift products in 2011 than it was last year. The consumer chill is now causing significant structural and corporate changes to the business as we know it. But the licensing industry is a business that knows what a stimulating effect a big hit can have. Didn't the Toy Story property ease the U.K.'s pain last year, for example?
The licensing industry works (for the moment) in a different time zone than the consumer, so to speak–it's always onto the next good idea if things don't work out as planned. Most of all, the business puts energy and resources into brands and characters because it believes in them and in the positive effect a successful licensing campaign can have.
As Metrostar's Claire Potter says as she describes her attraction to children's publishing properties such as Dear Zoo and Winnie the Witch: "A great deal of love has gone into creating these illustrated books. The emphasis is on creating great stories and beautiful books. Parents know this and retailers really get it, too."
One thing the chill has done is keep half-baked ideas at bay. This year on the show floor there are as many new concepts as ever, but you can expect them to be well researched, well honed and with plans and credentials that leave little doubt of their commercial potential.
The atmosphere on the Brand Licensing Europe show floor this year will probably feel a little like a coiled spring. When the business gets wind of the slightest upturn in retail and consumer confidence, it is poised and ready to pounce into action. Until then licensors must hold on to their hats.
It's going to be a great show this year. The show welcomes Howard Roffman, president of Lucas Licensing, to talk to the European licensing community about the Star Wars property, the brand's heritage and Lucas' plans to keep it exciting for generations to come. Star Wars is one of the most successful brands on the planet at anticipating and responding to consumer appetite and no one should miss the chance to hear Roffman's unique insight.
The keynote speaker is Michael Acton Smith whose online children's game, Moshi Monsters, has over 50 million users, just launched its own record label and has Moshi TV in development. The brand has made the first steps in a successful migration into the real world with toys, magazines, trading cards and other licensed products launching this year. Starting as an online property and developing into real world products that keep pace with the online world is something Acton Smith thinks could turn the licensing model on its head. Look to hear his thoughts on marketing to a digital generation of kids.
Major industry players such as BBC Worldwide, Turner Broadcasting, ITV and Sony all have important new brands to exhibit; the preschool space returns again with lots of new properties coming through; the film suite will be packed with hot new titles; and the show celebrates sport, fashion and lifestyle brands with giants such as Manchester United, Muhammad Ali, Tiësto, Chupa Chups and V&A. If you haven't registered, there's still time at www.brandlicensing.eu.