MY LIFE IN LICENSING: Jessica Blue

If you believe all you read, her next show could be Plastics and Piping...
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Name:
Jessica Blue

Time spent in licensing industry:

Coming up for my fourth anniversary.

First job in licensing?
This one – event director for Brand Licensing Europe.

What were your responsibilities?
The same as they are now – to host a trade show for the European licensing industry that meets the business needs of licensors, licensees and retail and provides a platform for all three groups to network, learn, share and, most importantly, do business.

When I joined Brand Licensing in 2005 the show was at Earls Court and very different. We introduced a number of marketing initiatives for the 2006 event that helped it to become the successful showcase that it is today. These included introducing visitor, retailer and exhibitor focus groups, exhibitor happy hours, recruiting a dedicated person to target retailers, hiring a new PR agency, introducing the European Hosted Buyers Programme, changing venue, dates and pricing structure and introducing the Screening Suite.

Not content to leave it there, in 2006 we changed our name from Brand Licensing and introduced a free-to-attend Licensing Academy. As a result of the investment we put in, 2007 was the best attended Brand Licensing ever with a record 4,301 (ABC audited) pure visitors and we’re delighted to be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year.

Current job in licensing?
This one! Event director of Brand Licensing Europe.

What are your current responsibilities?
After rebranding as Brand Licensing Europe and introducing the European Hosted Buyers Programme, my focus continues to be creating an event that is truly representative of and for the European licensing industry. This year, we will have a record number of European exhibitors and properties at the event and are hoping to also attract a record number of visitors from mainland Europe. With the licensing industries in central and Eastern Europe blossoming, there is a still lot of potential to grow the European element even further.

What is your greatest achievement so far?
The Screening Suite. This was my idea so that was a very big thing for me personally as it encouraged a number of exhibitors to return to the event after one or more year’s absence. I’m also really proud of the fact that we have a fantastic team behind Brand Licensing Europe which has increased retail visitors by 60 per cent and grew exhibitor numbers by a third over the past three years.

What licence would you most like to have in your portfolio?
Well, if it was down to Ruby Blue who’s about to turn one, then it would have to be In the Night Garden as she is obsessed with Iggle Piggle.

If you could choose your dream job in licensing, what would it be and why?
I was at an exhibitor’s office for a meeting a year or so ago and they had spent the previous afternoon tasting cakes for one of their big licenses. Only one cake manufacturer was going to get the license. Competition was tough and the best cake won. That has to be a pretty good way to spend an afternoon all in the name of hard work.

What’s the best thing about working in the licensing industry?
This may sound corny but it's the people. It's a work hard play hard industry as anyone who has been to the Brand Licensing Europe exhibitor party or the party we put on in New York for Licensing Show will testify. As a relative newcomer I have been welcomed warmly. People are honest and straight-talking and that's what you need as an exhibition organiser.

What is your most embarrassing moment so far?
What the heck, here we go… the zip on my trousers broke at the Licensing International in New York and had to be held together all day by Sellotape borrowed from the press office. It was a long day trying to remember not to take my jacket off in meetings…

What’s the best licensing industry trade show you’ve ever been to and why?
I think I'll be a bit biased here! BLE 2006 where I saw all the changes we made come alive. I would have said BLE 2007 as that has been our most successful to date but I had just given birth so I wasn't there!

And how about the worst?
2005 was a difficult show for me personally as, having just joined the team, I was in the firing line for all the comments from exhibitors who wanted us to change venue, pricing, introduce new facilities. But having gone through that then listened and changed things, it’s also another reason why 2006 was so great.

If you weren’t working in licensing, what would you be doing?
I'm an exhibition organiser, so something like Plastics and Piping 2008. I know which I'd rather do.

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