With the global economy in such a fragile state it would have been understandable if a mellower mood pervaded the floor at Brand Licensing Europe this year. But it was exactly the opposite. In fact, the show enjoyed a 22 percent hike in retail visitor numbers.
Huge investment was evident from stand holders: the aisles were a-buzz, visitors spilled upwards into the Victorian galleries of London's Olympia, meetings were non-stop and, most importantly, deals were brokered and new partnerships created on the show floor.
"Brand Licensing Europe 2011 has exceeded all of our expectations to become the biggest and best attended event in its 13-year history," says Jessica Blue, Brand Licensing Europe event director. "Exhibitors saw new licensees and retailers from across the U.K. and Europe that they hadn't previously and had the opportunity to meet with them."
And everyone seemed to take notice. For the second year running the show received significant coverage in mainstream U.K. media including The Radio Times, Sky News, The Daily Telegraph and the BBC.
Events and Content
Screenings were held in the film suite this year by Disney, Lucasfilm, DreamWorks, Universal, Fox and Sony; and parties were hosted by Turner CN Enterprises, Nickelodeon and Mind Candy.
The finale of the second License This! competition brought a lift to the last day of the show. The competition introduced five new licensing concepts to a panel of judges which then chose winner Sarah Watts' property "How To . . . For the Domestically Inept," a graphic design concept inspired by traditional airline safety cards. Watts will receive a fully-furnished stand worth £5,000 to bring the property back to market next year.
The panel was chaired by Andrew Kerr of AohK Commercial with Patricia de Wilde, Zodiak Kids France; Oliver Dyer, Skew Studio and Eric Huang, Penguin. The finalists this year were all art and design brands: Little Godz by Peter Rohde; Jacky Al-Samarraie Landscapes by Jacky Al-Samarraie; Turizmo presented by Jane Evans and Marsh Mellow presented by Sarah Lawrence.
"I would urge anyone with a new idea to enter this competition next year," says Kerr. "The process is not onerous and being a finalist brings with it some great opportunities."
The Licensing Academy
The Licensing Academy welcomed Michael Acton Smith, chief executive officer and founder of Mind Candy and creator of Moshi Monsters, to deliver the keynote address. To a packed house, Acton Smith explained his very particular take on keeping kids engaged within the digital space as he explained the journey of the brand into the world of real licensed products. He was, he told License! Global, "sounding the alarm" about the digital revolution in a positive way, reminding people that the skills in creating great entertainment are highly transferable to digital media.
Howard Roffman, president, Lucas Licensing, was the subject of The Big Interview and was quizzed by Mark Dinning, Empire Magazine editor in chief. Roffman explained what keeps Star Wars relevant generation after generation. (The property has generated $23 billion worldwide over the past 30 years.) Roffman also revealed progress on a number of exciting new film and TV developments as well.
Deals and Launches
New brands were launched and deals were sealed at the show. Nickelodeon Consumer Products signing a deal with the Riki Group to become NCP's exclusive licensing agency in Russia and CIS. Hasbro emphasized its focus on the development for its "core four" brands (My Little Pony, Transformers, Nerf and Littlest Pet Shop), signed deals with Universal Cycles and Worlds Apart and announced the appointment of Maya Moskvicheva as senior category manager in Russia. HIT Entertainment celebrated six new deals for Mike the Knight, ahead of the news of the company's acquisition by Mattel. Fox Consumer Products signed up with the European retailer LPP for apparel collections featuring The Simpsons, Family Guy and Futurama. Chupa Chups presented its "best licensee of the year" award to Cool Think Licensing, which supplied 300,000 pieces of apparel to the Zara Group this year and launched the first online Chupa Chups fashion store. And there were many more.
For licensors and licensees in Great Britain, the trends on the show floor celebrated the "Best of British" as retailers look ahead to the London 2012 Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubliee. V&A Licensing, Aardman Animations, Live Nation with the Sex Pistols and the National Railway Museum were among those to celebrate all things U.K.
Properties for girls are still in demand by licensees and retailers and this year there were plenty to choose from with new concepts in all stages of maturity from Barbie and the Winx Club Fairies, to Fatina Dreams, Winnie the Witch and Puppy in My Pocket.
Brand Licensing Europe 2012 takes place Oct. 16-18 at Olympia, London. For more information, visit www.brandlicensing.eu.