None of the home nations qualified, of course, but that hasn’t stopped the 2008 European Championships being a truly gripping football tournament – and a major licensing opportunity.
In fact, says Bruno Schwobthaler, WBCP's senior VP, sales and business development for Europe, Middle East and Asia, it might be an opportunity that’s not being maximised – with England’s overpaid underachievers not the only ones missing out on Austria and Switzerland ’08.
For, whilst there are nearly 3,000 products in the official licensing programme, not many of them are widely available around the UK.
Schwobthaler comments: “Regrettably, yes, distribution is limited. This will result in missed sales as football fever has still hit the UK. Games are being watched, people have picked a ‘second’ team to support and internet traffic shows that there is a very high interest coming from the UK.”
But, like England’s fans, the key now is coming to terms with the tournament as it is, rather than as we’d like it to be, and making the most of it.
Warner Bros. Consumer Products has been appointed by UEFA as the exclusive worldwide licensing representative, but the body itself handles the creative development process, account management, sales and product approval.
The product options range from 50 cent Panini stickers to 200 Euros Caran D’Ache silver pens and trophy miniatures. Schwobthaler picks out apparel (t-shirts, sweat shirts, socks, scarves, caps), toys (footballs, plush), stickers and stationery as the biggest lines.
Schwobthaler says the biggest selling lines are the stickers, the T-shirts, scarves, balls and plush. The range is being supported by two generic TV campaigns in over 30 countries and a print campaign in five key markets.
The host countries are obviously proving to be lucrative territories, despite the failure of either Switzerland or Austria to get through the group stages. France and Italy also saw strong sales early doors, although that situation is obviously changing as France have crashed out and, on Sunday (June 22nd) Italy will come up against the impressive Spain – finally looking to shake off their ‘perennial underachievers’ tag.
With the quarter-finals now underway, Euro 2008 just keeps getting better. It doesn’t seem to be missing England very much at all.
The licensing programme might be slightly poorer without Becks and the boys, but, like the tournament itself, it would still be very silly to ignore it.