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2023: A Look Back

The year is coming to a close, and License Global is recapping some of its most popular stories.

Barbara Smith , Jane Neal

December 21, 2023

8 Min Read
Mattel/Pantone/Peanuts/LVMH/Target/Beekman 1802
Top: Pantone x H&M, Miniso Snoopy collection. Middle: NBA Arena on Meta, "Barbie" poster, Beekman 1803 Nestlé TollHouse skincare. Bottom: Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, Rowing Blazers for Target.Top: Pantone x H&M, Miniso Snoopy collection. Middle: NBA Arena on Meta, "Barbie" poster, Beekman 1803 Nestlé TollHouse skincare. Bottom: Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, Rowing Blazers for Target.

At License Global, our goal is to be the thought leaders in the licensing industry. That means we spend a lot of time analyzing trends, looking at the world and trying to predict what’s coming down the pike. 

One trend we’ve seen throughout this year is fashion collaborations. We always expect a jump in apparel, accessories and shoes when it’s back-to-school season. But throughout the year, a plethora of deals emerged in this space. Whether it’s shoes, accessories or apparel, fashion continues to garner many licensed deals. Licensing International’s 2023 Global Licensing Industry Survey reported global sales revenue from licensed merchandise and services in fashion grew by 3.8%. 

Another area that evidenced increased energy was sports. And not just the usual suspects, like pro basketball, American football and baseball. We’ve seen spiked interest in international football clubs, Formula 1, women’s sports and the emergence of collegiate athlete name/image/likeness marketing. People seem to be loving sports more than ever and loving more types of sports than ever. And when they love something, they want to rep it, usually with a branded item. Sports deals abounded in nearly every category, from NFL, NFLPA, MLB and NBA to several FC deals, Major League Soccer, tennis and UFC

You gotta eat; licensing deals across the food and beverage category showed that there’s an insatiable appetite for collabs. We saw food and footwear collabs (Hershey’s x Crocs), odd flavor combos (Velveeta truffles, pineapple Pepsi) and enough licensed spirit and beer deals to stock a bar. 

Leading into the premiere of “Barbie” in July and going on for nearly two months after, it seemed like not a day went by without a new Barbie-themed deal. We saw Barbie hit almost every product category imaginable. We weren’t just thinking pink … we were seeing pink … everywhere. There were toys, location-based experiences, Halloween costumes, shoes, apparel, hair accessories, home, gifting, handbags, stationery, makeup and food items – all with the Barbie brand. 

Every December, we look back on some of the more significant stories, month-by-month, to see what the bigger licensing stories have been and, quite possibly, will be. Check out some of the highlights from the past year. – Jane Neal 

January: 

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EXCLUSIVE: Lucasfilm Announces Licensees for New Indiana Jones Movie: Ahead of the “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” release, Lucasfilm unveiled plans for apparel, toys, stationery and more.  

Joester Loria Group Announces Three Additions to Board of Directors: The Joester Loria Group announced the promotion of three senior executives to managing directors and their appointment to the JLG board of directors to help oversee JLG’s operation and support JLG’s brand teams.  

State of Play: Toy Trends on Display at London Toy Fair 2023: The return of the London Toy Fair confirmed the notion of a mass increase in licensing appeal thanks to the continued arrival of toyetic properties (“Hey Duggee,” “Bluey,” “Star Wars” and “PAW Patrol,”) in mainstream media.   

February:

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EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Consumer Products & Experiences Announces New Appointments: Jose Castro, Jamie Drew and Kedar Nadkarni took on roles for consumer products across all markets outside the U.S. 

State of Play: The Toy Trends from Nuremberg: kidult culture, board games, micro trends and more were displayed at Germany’s biggest toy event. 

‘Jurassic Park’  Takes Over at London’s Natural History Museum Shop: Celebrating 30 years since “Jurassic Park” first stomped onto screens, Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and the Natural History Museum collaborated to transform one of the Museum’s stores into a replica of the shop featured in the original 1993 film.  

March:

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Redefining the McDonald’s Happy Meal: This magazine article delves into the deep history of the Happy Meal, from its origins in Guatemala to a licensing powerhouse.  

Key Publishing Trends at Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2023: The event featured new IPs, brand extension opportunities and more. 

Pop-Tarts Celebrates New Flavor with Limited-Edition Sweaters: The launch of Banana Bread Pop-Tarts debuted with limited-edition crocheted Pop-Tarts Pop-Tartigan sweaters.  

April:

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Authentic Brands Group to Acquire Boardriders: Through this acquisition, Authentic has been able to diversify and expand its portfolio by adding a variety of brands in board sports, including Quiksilver, Billabong, Roxy, DC Shoes, RVCA, Element, VonZipper and Honolua. 

Video Games: Licensing’s 1 Up: This License Global original examines the ever-changing video game sector.  

NYC’s Fifth Avenue Transforms into ‘Marvelous’ Mile with Manischewitz and Amazon Prime: Manischewitz commemorated the final season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” with a joint celebration on the Marvelous Mile, featuring food, activations and more.   

May:

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Pokémon Announces Tour of Smyths Toys Superstores for U.K. Half-Term: The party tour visited stores across the U.K. and featured face painting, a coloring wall, free giveaways, visits from Pikachu and photo opportunities. 

Brandgenuity Appointed Licensing Agent for ‘The Sims’: Brandgenuity is collaborating with “The Sims” franchise to extend the brand’s reach across various lifestyle categories, such as apparel, accessories, collaborations, collectibles, games and publishing. 

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger Squishmallows Launch: Jazwares exhibited at the Berkshire Hathaway Festival and created plush versions of Warren Buffett and his right-hand man, Charlie Munger.  

June:

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Toei Animation Releases Inaugural Latin America Market Report: The animation giant showcased its growth in the region after launching Spanish-language social media channels and signing licensing deals.  

Netflix Pulls Back the Curtain: A look at how the streaming giant continues to grow and adapt to changing consumer demands.  

Mattel Announces Partnerships Ahead of ‘Barbie’ Release: Ahead of the highly anticipated movie release, Mattel announced a slate of collaborations spanning food, beauty, home and much much more. 

July:

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Miniso x Barbie Collection Launches: “Barbie”-mania continued, this time with a U.S. collection available at the retailer.  

Warner Bros. Discovery Global Consumer Products Announces ‘Shark Week’ 2023 Collection: Highlights from this year’s items include apparel from Nautica, a limited-edition Build-A-Bear and a Shark Week-themed Monopoly.  

Ukonic Rolls Out ‘Minecraft’ Mini-Fridges: Ukonic expanded its “Minecraft” merchandise line to include figural mini-fridges modeled after the creeper head and a TNT block.  

August:

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Mattel Adventure Park Sets Opening Date: Fans of Barbie, Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe and more can visit the theme park, located in Glendale, Ariz., in 2024.   

Hasbro to Sell eOne Film and TV Business to Lionsgate: Hasbro sold its eOne film and TV business to Lionsgate for approximately $500 million. The announcement is the culmination of a rigorous sale process in connection to the Blueprint 2.0 strategy, which at its core is about significantly increasing investment in Hasbro’s priority brands. 

Cheetos Mac ‘N Cheese x Coral Castillo MAC’ramé Collection: Cheetos created a macramé-inspired collection with designer, Coral Castillo, featuring sneakers and a waist bag. 

September:

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Inside ZAG’s Miraculous Universe: This License Global magazine cover story dives into the world of ZAG and what’s next for the ‘Miraculous’ franchise and other future plans. 

Disney Lorcana Trading Card Game Released at Retailers: The TCG featuring an array of Disney characters hit shelves.  

Guy Fieri, Homage Create T-Shirts Celebrating Local Flavors of NFL Teams: The celebrity chef created tees for all 32 NFL teams with designs inspired by local flavors on each of the tees. 

October:

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YU-GI-OH! Announces Product Expansion: Konami Cross Media NY signed Fashion UK, Kovert and Mister SFC to create new consumer products for fans of the manga IP.  

Top Trends from New York Toy Fair 2023: The first in-person Toy Fair since 2022 highlighted kidult culture, collectibles, edutainment and more.  

G FUEL Introduces ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ Energy Drink: To celebrate Halloween, G FUEL and Warner Bros. Discovery Consumer Products created the Dream Demon flavor, inspired by Freddy Krueger.  

November:

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Sanrio Announces Celebration of 50 Years of Hello Kitty: In anticipation of this major milestone on Nov. 1, 2024, Sanrio will launch an AR (augmented reality) app, short animations on TikTok, monthly promotions in My Hello Kitty Cafe on Roblox and a presence in the digital world of Zepeto.  

Moonbug and Spin Master Announce Partnership: This strategic alliance will focus on elevating the intellectual property of both companies and appoint Spin Master as the global master toy licensee for two of Moonbug’s IPs, “Blippi” and “Little Angel.” 

Warner Bros. Discovery Unveils 20th Anniversary ‘Elf’ Celebration: Warner Bros. Discovery announced new products, events and experiences to celebrate the 20th anniversary of New Line Cinema’s “Elf.”   

About the Author(s)

Barbara Smith

Digital Editor , License Global

Barbara Smith is a Digital Editor for License Global. Based in the U.S., while Barbara's remit is general news coverage, she enjoys focusing on apparel, travel and social media throughout North America. Barbara loves all things fashion, fitness and food!

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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