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Since the first show in 1980, the Licensing International Expo has gone from a small gathering of a few hundred attendees to an international event that draws more than 18,000 people from around the world.
April 6, 2018
Since the first show in 1980, the Licensing International Expo has gone from a small gathering of a few hundred attendees to an international event that draws more than 18,000 people from around the world. With the expo celebrating its 30th anniversary this year in Las Vegas from June 8 to 10, License! Global is asking industry veterans to talk about the show and what it's meant to their business over the years.
Linda Mariano, vice president of marketing and licensing for The Thomas Kinkade Company, has been attending the show for Thomas Kinkade for 10 years, but her association with it dates back even longer. "I've been going to the show since the days when it was held in the lower level of the Hilton Hotel in New York City," says Mariano. "So I've seen it grow a lot."
In addition to providing a venue to meet existing and prospective licensees, Mariano says the show is important because it leads companies in new directions. "We've had people come up to our booth and say things like 'We're in the candle business and we'd like to talk to you about candles,'" says Mariano. "The same thing happened with partners we're now working with in apparel. You meet new people with new ideas."
A good example was the company's meeting with representatives from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, who were at the show a few years ago looking for ways to commemorate the speedway's 100th anniversary in 2009. "We met with them and that led to Thom [Kinkade] being chosen as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's centennial artist," says Mariano.
Curtis Publishing is part of an exclusive group of companies that was at the first show in 1980. "Curtis Publishing has been going since day one and we've been at every show since," says Michael Waldner, director of licensing for the Indianapolis-based company that licenses images from artists including Norman Rockwell.
Waldner says a lot of the business Curtis Publishing does in any given year revolves around the licensing show. "It's a very important part of our business model," says Waldner. "It's an event we plan our calendar around in some way each year."
Art Impressions has been to nearly every licensing show and considers it an integral part of its business. "From our earliest days in this business, we've considered the licensing show a 'can't miss event' for our company," says Art Impressions' chief executive officer Cindy Bailey. "There's no other platform that's so effective in bringing together such a wide cross section of global licensees, retail buyers and agents, making it a launching pad for our new properties and initiatives."
Bailey says Art Impressions has signed several major deals that grew out of meetings at the show. "We had several ground-breaking meetings at Licensing International Expo," says Bailey. "We secured partnerships with licensing agencies Exim & Smart Licensing for Brazil and Click Licensing for China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines."
Like Bailey, Mariano considers going to the licensing show an essential part of doing business in the industry. "It's a very important part of our business and an important part of our brand development," says Mariano. "If you're going to be in the licensing business, you have to be at the show every year."
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