Licensing Expo returns to Vegas with a host of new brands, returning favorites and topical features that hit on current trends in the marketplace. Here are 10 things to make sure to see at this year’s show.
No. 1–All Things Digital
The changing content landscape is top-of-mind right now and Licensing Expo has it covered, beginning with the inaugural Digital Media Licensing Summit. Taking place on the Monday before the show, June 8, the summit is designed to connect licensees, retailers and manufacturers with digital media companies and stars.
The event is held in conjunction with Licensing University, which is organized by show sponsor, the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association. Featuring keynotes and panels that highlight new opportunities across the digital landscape, top executives from Kohl's, AwesomenessTV, YouTube, Maker Studios and United Talent Agency, among others, will speak, along with a range of digital stars Andrea Brooks, Hannah Hart and Connor Franta.
The digital highlights will continue on the show floor from June 9 to 11 where digital exhibitors will include a number of YouTube stars, DreamWorks Animations' multi-channel network AwesomenesTV, Beanstalk's digital division Tinderbox and many more.
No. 2–Compelling Keynotes
On Tuesday, the focus on digital will continue with a keynote from YouTube celebrity and fashion designer Bethany Mota, who will deliver The Big Interview at 2:30 p.m. Mota will discuss her success in the digital arena in an interview that will be keynoted by YouTube's Benjamin Grubbs, head of family entertainment and learning, Asia Pacific.
A panel of top merchants and brand experts will open the first day of the show with the Executive Keynote Panel, "Where Is Retail Headed and How Will We Get There?" The 8 a.m. Tuesday keynote will feature Richard Barry of Toys 'R' Us, Dow Famulak of Global Brands Group, Mike Fitzsimmons of Delivery Agent and Lisa Harper of Hot Topic and will be moderated by Marty Brochstein of LIMA. Both keynotes are free to Licensing Expo attendees and exhibitors.
No. 3–Licensing University and Awards
As always, LIMA has gathered together the best and the brightest for four days of learning and sharing designed to help executives take their business to the next level. This year, Licensing University will feature more than 30 different sessions covering topics ranging from the basics of licensing to how to leverage licensing programs to create positive brand affiliations. This year's program will also feature a series of roundtable discussions that will allow participants to connect with licensing peers and industry experts.
On Tuesday evening, LIMA will host its annual award ceremony which celebrates the best in licensing. This year's event will honor a record 142 nominees from 14 countries.
No. 4–Opening Night Party on the Beach
The first day of the show will close with a bang at the annual Opening Night Party, in association with Endemol Shine North America and sponsored by LIMA. The evening event, which will take place at the Mandalay Bay Beach Club at 8:30 p.m., will be co-hosted by Sony Music, who will present the girl group Fifth Harmony as the special guest performer
No. 5–Sports, Sports and More Sports
This year's show will feature an expanded lineup of sports brands including the Major League Baseball Players Association, NFL Players Inc. and Tottenham Hotspur. Other related exhibitors include IMG Worldwide, which will be presenting top sports brands such as the PGA Tour, Arnold Palmer, Wayne Gretzky, Sergio Tacchini and Yamaha; action-sports entertainment company Nitro Circus (more on that below) and One Entertainment, which represents the Pan-American soccer tournament Copa America 2016.
No. 6–High Octane Entertainment
New exhibitor Nitro Circus Live, which features action-sports stunts on everything from BMX bikes to inline skates, will be showcasing its brand on the show floor with stunts performed live on site. Among the athletes slated to perform are James Foster, Beaver Fleming, Chris Haffey, Todd Meyn, Ryan Williams and Kurtis Downs.
No. 7–Spotlight on Arts
A number of activations highlighting the work of innovative art and design brands will feature on the show floor. J'Net Smith of All Art Licensing returns to host the Art & Design Resource Center, a convenient location for meetings and to find matchmaking services. The Art & Design Launchpads offers emerging brands an entry point to the licensing industry, and gives licensees and retailers the chance to get in on the ground floor with fresh, new brands. The Art & Design area will also showcase a number of events including live painting by Robert Holton of Drizzle Studios! and graffiti artists Kreashun; a live stream of videos and art exhibitor interviews at the Art Moose booth; and art demonstrations from Stephen Fishwick.
No. 8–International Relations
In addition to exhibitors from more than 35 countries, this year's show will also feature country-specific pavilions for the U.K., Mexico, China, Japan, Brazil and Korea (both Mexico and the U.K. are making their Expo debut this year). Each regional pavilion serves as a commercial center for these countries, showcasing the full range of licensing activity in that region. New this year, the second day of the show, June 10, will be marked as International Day, with the various country pavilions and other exhibitors hosting events to highlight their country's unique assets.
No. 9–Sourcing Resources
Featuring 20 factories that manufacture everything from apparel to toys, the sourcing zone provides a one-stop shop for licensors and licensees looking for the know-how and resources to bring product to market.
No. 10–Year-Round Support
No need for the deals to end just because the show has. LicenseConnect, the new online complement to Licensing Expo and its sister show in London, Brand Licensing Europe, offers access to exhibitor brands from both events 365-days-a-year. Licensees, retailers and manufacturers get free, unlimited access to brand listings year-round.