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Letter from London – The Sporting Life

Letter from London – The Sporting Life
This summer in the U.K. (I feel that after a week of rain and overcoats, I am finally qualified to talk about it in the past tense), we were glued to our screens for the most amazing season of sport: the FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon, the European Athletics Championships, cricket, golf, F1–you name it, we watched it. And now summer’s over, and despite the European football season kicking off again, we can never have too much sport in our lives!

This summer in the U.K. (I feel that after a week of rain and overcoats, I am finally qualified to talk about it in the past tense), we were glued to our screens for the most amazing season of sport: the FIFA World Cup, Wimbledon, the European Athletics Championships, cricket, golf, F1–you name it, we watched it. And now summer’s over, and despite the European football season kicking off again, we can never have too much sport in our lives!

While most of us are not looking forward to the shorter, colder days that lie ahead of us, the silver lining to that black cloud is Brand Licensing Europe, which takes place October 9-11 in London and has more than enough sporting content to brighten up our days.

Last year, we had a bumper turnout from sports brands at BLE after declaring it one of our two themes, alongside gaming. Since then, LIMA’s 2018 Global Licensing Report has shown a huge uplift in the global sales of sports licensed products to $26.5 billion (up 4.9 percent year on year). It now accounts for 10 percent of all licensed merchandise sales.

Given the rise in activity and value within the sector, and our focus last year, BLE will have the biggest-ever sporting lineup in its 20-year history in October with 23 brands currently on the floor plan, including nine first-timers.

Visitors will find world-famous football clubs, including Barcelona, Benfica, Juventus, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal, as well as leading federations FIFA, French Football Federation, Royal Dutch Football Association, the FA and UEFA Euro 2020. We also have the Tour de France, Roland-Garros and the Rugby World Cup, plus the International Basketball Federation, NBA and NFL Players Association.

The Rugby World Cup takes place next year, and the UEFA European Football Championships and the Olympics both return in 2020. It will be really interesting to see how UEFA plays the licensing card for Euro 2020 following the success of the FIFA World Cup program.

Historically, licensing within the Olympic movement has been mainly managed by the organizing committees of the Olympic Games in the host countries only, however, the IOC has now created a new approach to licensing with “the Olympic global licensing strategy.”

We’re really lucky that VP Commercial Integration Elisabeth Allaman will be one of BLE’s two keynote speakers next month talking about how this new strategy has been developed and the IOC’s mission to create a tangible connection to the Olympic Games and Olympism through merchandising programs that are aligned with the Olympic image and designed to enhance brand value and goodwill.

The aim of the new strategy is to strengthen and promote the Olympic brand, not only during the Olympic Games but also between Games, and to engage consumers all around the world. The new strategy consists of three core licensing programs aimed at specific target groups, with The Olympic Collection to engage young people, The Olympic Heritage Collection aimed at enthusiasts (but not necessarily spectators) and The Olympic Games Programme, which targets fans visiting the host city or following the Games from home.

In the BLE Brands & Lifestyle Theater, we also have a fascinating panel discussion lined up with representatives from world-leading organizations including Roland-Garros, the home to The French Open, and the NFLPA talking about opportunities in sport licensing. So, this is a great session for brands, licensees and retailers to attend. And, finally, the NBA and the International Basketball Federation are teaming up to deliver a session on the opportunities in basketball licensing following its increased popularity in Europe.

After shining a light on sports at BLE last year, it’s really exciting to watch how far the sector has already come since then, how fast it is developing and how creative and innovative the organizations within it are with their approach to licensing and merchandising. I, for one, can’t wait to see more.

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