Brand Licensing Europe, the region’s top licensing event, kicks off this month in London and promises to be the biggest and most informational one yet.
The show is gearing up for its largest event ever, topping even the 2014 BLE, which hosted more than 7,000 retailers, licensees and sales promotion professionals from over 65 countries (a 28 percent increase in retailers over 2013). According to the International Licensing Merchandisers' Association's recent study, Europe is now 25 percent of all licensed merchandise retail sales, with entertainment, corporate brands, fashion and sports leading the charge–all of which are represented by intellectual property in stands on the show floor.
"If you're in licensing, then you need to be at Brand Licensing Europe," says Darren Brechin, event director, Brand Licensing Europe. "It's the only way to stay ahead of your competitors by finding the latest properties. Where else can you see over 2,500 properties on display under one roof? We have 70 new exhibitors at the show this year and they cover a diverse
This year, attendees will find more than 300 exhibitors on the show floor representing all of the top industries in the global consumer product industry including DreamWorks Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Chupa Chups, Hasbro Brand Licensing & Publishing, Nickelodeon Viacom Consumer Products, Mind Candy, SEGA, Sony Pictures Consumer Products, The Jim Henson Company, The National History Museum, Walker Books U.K. and many more.
Also debuting at BLE is the VW brand, which will appear in the Brands & Lifestyle zone in conjunction with its licensing agent, IMG.
"The VW licensing program is an impressive success story with phenomenal growth in a short space of time," says Brechin. "We are thrilled that VW has chosen BLE to make its licensing debut to expand the program further."
Furthering the automotive representation on the show floor are other leading companies in the category including Automobili Lamborghini and Moto GP.
Sports is also a growth area for BLE, with companies such as Adidas A.C. Milan, Arsenal Football Club, Chelsea Football Club and FIFA each taking space.
Once again, the 2015 show will be zoned into three distinct areas to help visitors navigate the Olympia show floor with ease. The show will be divided into the areas: Art, Design & Image; Brands & Lifestyle; and Character & Entertainment.
BLE has also expanded its education programming, a key focus of the three-day event.
Through its Licensing Academy and in the Brands & Lifestyle Theatre, both of which are sponsored by LIMA, attendees will gain access to 25 free-to-attend sessions over the course of BLE.
"One of the things I'm most proud of for this year's show is the extended conference program," says Brechin. "We have enhanced both the Licensing Academy and the Brands & Lifestyle Theatre programs, and they are set to feature some fantastic content with speakers and panelists from the likes of Nike, United Nations, Barbie/Mattel, Warner Bros. and Diageo, to name but a few."
The Licensing Academy will feature 16 seminar sessions covering topics such as licensing basics, contract negotiation and much more. The Licensing Academy will also include new sessions from trade organization SPLiCE and the program's knowledge partners GfK and the NPD Group.
In the Brands & Retail Theatre, which is run in conjunction with Brand Jam, nine sessions will address topics such as the business of licensing across sports, non-profits, food and beverage, heritage brands, museums, children's properties and more.
A highlight of the educational programming is the keynote address, of which two will be offered at BLE 2015.
The first keynote will take place Oct. 13 at 12:30 p.m. GMT. Don't miss BLE's industry talk hosted by YouTube with a special guest that will provide insight into today's new media celebrities and their impact on licensing.
On Oct. 14 at 12:30 p.m. GMT, Sophia Jansson, creative director, Moomin Characters, and niece of Moomin creator Tove Jansson, will speak to BLE attendees about the story of the Moomin brand journey, insights into the Moomin strategy and brand development and future plans for the classic characters. Jansson will be joined on stage by Roleff Kråkström, chief executive officer of Moomin Characters, and Gustav Melin, global licensing director at Bulls Licensing.
"I feel very honored to have been asked to share my experiences with the Moomin brand at BLE this year," says Jansson. "It is really great to recount the brand's journey over the years to such an international and knowledgeable audience of experts in the licensing field."
Also expanded this year is the License This! prize package. The annual competition, now in its sixth year, offers new creative concepts the opportunity to break into the global licensing industry. This year's winner will receive more than £6,000 in prizes including a fully-furnished stand at BLE 2016, LIMA membership for one year and a ticket to the LIMA Licensing Essentials course and Spring Fling Networking Party in May 2016. Judging the competition are Kelvyn Gardner, managing director, LIMA U.K.; Charlie Donaldson, joint managing director, Rocket Licensing; Tom Gunn, international brand director, EMEA, MTV Networks; and Wendy Munt, consultant, Be Inspired Consulting.
BLE also boasts its Retail Mentoring Programme, which culminates at the annual event and is an initiative that gives retail buyers a wider understanding of the licensed product business.
Over the course of six months, nominated retailers take part in workshops and seminars and attend industry events. Retailers such as Asda, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Claire's Accessories U.K., Lloyds Pharmacy, Matalan and Standfords are each participating this year and join past participants Sainsbury, Boots, Lakeland, Blue and Mothercare.
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