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Consumer products licensing is a form of cultural and economic exchange.
December 19, 2023
The current war between Hamas and Israel has created a frenzy in the media due to the ferocity and barbarism of the Hamas terror attacks on innocent civilians and the overwhelming retaliation from Israel. The drama of a war in the Holy Land has shifted our collective attention from the other global conflicts taking place in Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Libya and other regional conflicts where innocent civilians are being killed and displaced. Over the last decade, over 40 million civilians have been displaced in Africa. The war in Ukraine has displaced eight million Ukrainians to other European countries. In the last decade, geopolitical instability in the Middle East and North Africa has caused millions to migrate to the EU.
As a later-stage baby boomer, my worldview was shaped by the 1960s, with political upheaval, civil rights and the Vietnam War. The generation of boomers in front of me preached the concept of peace and love. I attended the United Nations International School in NYC, where we were taught that all cultures could find common ground and live together in peace and friendship. At university, I studied journalism and intended to become a documentary filmmaker in the cause of world peace. When I graduated, the reality of paying the bills meant working in business journalism. Then, I discovered licensing. One of its many attractions for me is its ability as a global connector of people and cultures.
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Trade and commerce serve as the lifeblood of the global economy, and innovative approaches to diplomacy are needed more than ever. One such avenue, often overlooked, is consumer product licensing. While it may seem unconventional, this marketing tool has the potential to foster mutual understanding, promote cultural exchange and function as a powerful catalyst for global peace.
Consumer product licensing facilitates the exchange of ideas, art and culture across borders. When a popular character or brand is licensed for use in a foreign market, it opens a window into the culture from which it originates. This exchange of cultural elements leads to greater understanding and appreciation among diverse populations.
For instance, the global popularity of Japanese anime and manga has played a significant role in fostering cultural exchange between Japan and countries worldwide. Licensing agreements have allowed these unique art forms to reach new audiences, breaking down cultural barriers and creating a shared appreciation for creativity and storytelling.
In a world driven by economic interests, fostering interdependence can be a powerful force for peace. Consumer product licensing creates symbiotic relationships between countries, encouraging them to work together for mutual benefit. As businesses expand internationally through licensing agreements, they form economic ties that transcend political differences.
Licensing agreements often require exchanging knowledge and technology, leading to cross-pollination of ideas and innovation. When companies from different countries collaborate through licensing, they bring together diverse perspectives and expertise, resulting in the development of innovative products and services.
Consumer product licensing can serve as a stabilizing force in regions prone to conflict. When countries are economically dependent on one another through licensing agreements, the cost of conflict becomes prohibitively high. This interdependence creates a vested interest in maintaining peaceful relations, as disruptions could have far-reaching consequences for both parties.
The European Union stands as a prime example of how economic integration, facilitated by licensing and trade agreements, has contributed to decades of peace among member states. The shared economic interests of EU nations have created a powerful incentive for cooperation and conflict resolution.
Consumer product licensing can also empower local economies and communities, particularly in regions facing economic challenges. When a popular brand is licensed for production or distribution in a foreign market, it can lead to the growth of local industries and the creation of jobs.
For instance, the fashion industry often relies on licensing agreements to expand its reach into new markets. This not only introduces consumers to new styles and designs but also supports local artisans and manufacturers, driving economic growth and stability.
Consumer product licensing as a global peacemaker should not be underestimated. By fostering cultural exchange, promoting economic interdependence, encouraging innovation, mitigating conflict and empowering local economies, licensing agreements can bridge divides and build bridges between nations.
As we navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world, it is crucial that we explore innovative approaches to foster understanding and cooperation. Consumer product licensing offers a tangible and impactful way to do just that, demonstrating that in the world of commerce, there lies enormous potential for peace and harmony.
Steven Ekstract is managing director of Global Licensing Advisors. Ekstract is also the founder of License Global magazine.
Steven Ekstract, a former Brand Director of the Global Licensing Group, has been a leading voice in the licensing industry for more than two decades.
After working in Entertainment Journalism and Marketing including Video Review, Premiere magazines and the Hollywood Reporter, Ekstract founded License Global magazine in 1997, the leading news source for the brand licensing industry. He is often tapped as a thought leader to provide his insights and forecasts on the licensing business.
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