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The Brand Rules

The Brand Rules

When the news was recently released that an auction of more than 150 brands was being held in early December at the Waldorf Astoria, I immediately envisioned various brand licensing executives sitting in the audience ready to

When the news was recently released that an auction of more than 150 brands was being held in early December at the Waldorf Astoria, I immediately envisioned various brand licensing executives sitting in the audience ready to place the next bid on what could possibly become the next big time DTR deal.

I thought of how maybe some of the names from this long list of once-prominent consumer products and retail brands could be re-born as the hottest properties of the new decade.

This auction event also tied in with this month's cover story about Iconix Brand Group, and the longtime vision of fashion industry veteran Neil Cole, to build a brand licensing management company. It is a fascinating account of international growth, personal commitment and the value of intellectual property.

In just five years, Iconix has experienced explosive growth adding almost 25 brands to its portfolio, which began with two properties, Candie's and Bongo. Iconix has become the second largest global licensor generating $12 billion in annual retail sales of licensed merchandise.

Iconix has set the operating standard for a brand licensing company that combines heavy emphasis on direct-to-retail exclusives, celebrity tie-ins, trend analysis, aggressive marketing and merchandising expertise. The company is on track to double in size over the next three to five years and it will be done in large part through the continued acquisition of global iconic brands.

So when I reviewed the list of properties on the auction block, which was coordinated by Racebrook, a New York-based private equity firm and auction specialist, I thought so which of these brands would have the potential for a global licensing program and would any of them be strong enough to ever become part of the Iconix portfolio?

At first glance, some of the names that I recognized included retail names Computer City, The Linen Closet, Child World, Kiddie City, Cosmetics Plus; candy brands Big Yank, Old Nick and Pom Poms; food and beverage brands Breakfast Mates, Cheez Kisses, Lucky Whip, Snack Mate, Barrelhead and Meister Brau; magazine names Collier's and Saturday Review; household products names Handi Wrap, Rain Barrel and Party Tyme; and a long list of apparel brands including Hot Pants, H.I.S., London Britches, Annie Hall, Joan of Arc and Lazy Bones.

While I'm not so sure if any of these brands will be making headlines in License! Global or becoming part of the Iconix portfolio or another management company or licensing agency, this was a very interesting event that garnered media publicity and also reinforced the importance of brand equity. It also reinforced how valuable a brand name can be and the potential it offers.

Remember, how such names as Sharper Image, Polaroid and Linens 'n Things, which are all part of Hilco Consumer Capital, and Power Rangers, acquired in May by Saban Brands, are being transformed into global power brands.

Neil Cole and the executives at Iconix understand brand equity and the company's portfolio exemplifies how it has acquired stressed brands and re-established them as global growth properties. And with the goal of doubling its size in three to five years, you can be assured that Iconix will be acquiring many more brands and possibly even at some point one of them will be part of an auction like the one just held in New York.

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