Brand Licensing Europe 2012, set to take place Oct. 16-18 in London, is shaping up to be exceptionally lively, multi-national and packed with opportunities to make connections that count.
To date there are 191 exhibitors, 42 of which are new to the event. The show floor is 25 percent larger than last year with the addition of the newly refurbished West Hall at Olympia. The Screening Suite, Advice Centre, Licensing Academy and Retail Buyers' Lounge will be in full swing, and two of the biggest names in licensing are back on the show floor for 2012: Disney Consumer Products and Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
Disney and WBCP join a strong line-up of entertainment and film companies including Turner, Mattel, Hasbro, MTV, BBC Worldwide, Endemol, Sony and Lucas Licensing. Consumer and lifestyle brands, fashion, sports, art and design, publishing and heritage categories are also well represented this year. New names on the roster include Hot Pickle, MGA Entertainment, the Museum of London and Belle and Boo, as well as new and little-known brands making their debut and adding the all important element of innovation and discovery to Brand Licensing Europe each year.
One of Brand Licensing Europe's most innovative features is the Retail Mentoring Programme, which was introduced two years ago to nurture retail talent in the licensing industry and help retail professionals understand more fully the industry's complexities. This year, 40 buying professionals from Avon, Boots, John Lewis, Mothercare, Sainsbury's and Tesco have confirmed their participation and already begun to participate in workshops and seminars organized and funded by Advanstar. Events include attending the LIMA Licensing Essentials Course and spending time shadowing licensors. The Programme culminates in attendance at Brand Licensing Europe.
"We are delighted to be able to take part in the Retail Mentoring Programme. It's a great opportunity for our people to get to grips with the licensing industry, and give them confidence in such a huge marketplace about which licenses to choose," says Steven Bradley, buying manager, toys and nursery, Boots.
The Retail Mentoring Programme is only growing.
"In 2011, we saw a 22 percent increase in retail attendance to the show, and it's fantastic that retailers are sending more of their buyers to take part in the Programme," says Jessica Blue, show director, Brand Licensing Europe. "Not only does the Retail Mentoring Programme benefit retailers, but it is also very positive for our exhibitors and for the industry as a whole."
This is also the third year for License This!. Launched in 2010, the "Dragon's Den"-style challenge offers new creative concepts the opportunity to break into the global licensing industry. It is open to any new property that has its roots in publishing, art and design, television or digital media. The shortlist of four entries will be pitched to a panel in front of a live audience at the show on Oct. 18. The winner will receive a fully furnished stand at Brand Licensing Europe 2013 (worth £4,500) so that the new property can be brought back to market. License This! is open for entries now.
Previous winners and finalists have made great strides developing their brands. Last year's winner was How to...for the Domestically Inept, presented by Sarah Watts. Since winning the competition, Watts and her team have employed an agent and are developing the property for launch at this year's show. 2011 finalist, Jacky Al-Samarraie Landscapes, has signed a deal with a housewares business and is currently developing products to go to market later this year.
"Winning the competition opened many doors for us," says Watts. "Since the show, we have had conversations with a number of big names which focused us on developing and expanding the property for different mediums. It's a very exciting time for us with lots of possibilities, and we are looking forward to showcasing the property at this year's show. I would urge anyone with a new concept to enter the competition and see what it can do for you."
Another past finalist was Turizmo, which is represented by agent JELC. The shifting toy and fantasy game concept for boys has signed its first licensing agreement with the pioneering digital avatar company, Australia's Mishme Enterprises.
This year's Advice Centre, now full, includes Gateley LLP, Insight Licensing Services S.A.S., 24IP Law Group and UL STR.
At the Licensing Academy this year, attendees are promised another ensemble of headline-grabbing keynotes, interviews, panels and master classes. These are all free to attend and offer a mixture of expert advice and insight. Last year, the Licensing Academy was addressed by Howard Roffman, then-president of Lucas Licensing, and by Michael Acton Smith, founder of Mind Candy and creator of Moshi Monsters. There were panels of experts discussing licensed promotions, the new markets of Russia and Eastern Europe and an in-depth look at maximizing royalty audits. The 2012 schedule will be out soon.
"All plans are in place to make Brand Licensing Europe 2012 a highly productive marketplace for visitors and exhibitors," says Blue. "We are particularly pleased by the growth of the two initiatives we put in place to encourage new talent: The License This! challenge and the Retail Mentoring Programme. The 40 buyers taking part this year are sending a clear message to our industry that retailers from all sectors value licensing and are taking the initiative to become even more knowledgeable about it. Registration is open and we look forward to seeing you in October."
Register for Brand Licensing Europe at www.brandlicensing.eu.