It's quite hard for me to get my head around the fact that, this year, Licensing International turns 28; which is just three years younger than I am.
Of course, it’s changed a lot in that time (as have I). In 2007, Licensing International Expo was host to over 25,000 attendees from 82 countries. This year’s event is likely to attract similar numbers; organiser Advanstar says that over 6,000 properties and brands will be represented at New York’s Jacob Javits Convention Center from June 10th to 12th. It’s also worth noting that the show will welcome 100 new exhibitors including Skechers, Dr Suess Enterprises and Cold Fusion Entertainment/Brainy Baby amongst others.
“Licensing International Expo is the largest assembly of licensing professionals any where, any time,” show director Elizabeth Hitchcock tells ToyNews. “Whether spotting trends, building strategic partnerships, securing promotional tie-ins or taking properties worldwide, this is where it all happens. Equally, while many industries continue to feel the effect of a weakened US economy, the prospects for licensing have never been stronger, with global retail sales expected to reach $200 billion this year and $210 billion by 2010.”
A number of new features are being introduced – although Advanstar is playing its cards close to its chest for now – while the Licensing University is also making a return. Working together with industry trade body LIMA, Advanstar will offer 34 licensing seminars, workshops and panels, ranging in experience from novice to advanced. Sessions this year will cover a number of trends, business practices and technology that will affect the industry – including The New Media Licensing Revolution; The New Consumer, The New Retail and Licensing in the New World; and Protecting Licensors from Product Safety Concerns and Recalls.
In addition, there will also be a Las Vegas Pavilion, allowing exhibitors and attendees the chance to register for the new-look 2009 event, as well as book hotel rooms early to take advantage of good rates.
There seems to be no doubt that if you’re looking for the next big thing in licensing, or simply a good deal, it’s very likely to be found at the Javits; Advanstar says that 86 per cent of exhibitors to Licensing International initiated or finalised deals at the show. Hitchcock states: “Licensing International Expo is a gateway to the products and properties that will drive toy sales in the years to come, granting manufacturers, retailers and others in attendance a distinct advantage.”
Notably, for the past two years, Advanstar has offered Executive Deal Making Suites. Located on the show floor, this is an invitation only area designed to hold meetings in an environment conducive to doing business. “The suites allow companies who are new to the show or those who want to meet with pre-qualified licensees and agents to do business away from the general floor traffic,” explains Hitchcock.
The Digital Booth is also on offer for all participating exhibitors to give visitors a head start in their diary planning for the event. Each exhibitor has their company profile, contact information, a brief overview of their categories, brands and properties, plus graphics and film clips included.
At time of writing, most exhibitors were still finalising their plans, although Hitchcock was keen to point out the many properties celebrating milestone anniversaries at the event: Smurfs (50 years), Inspector Gadget (25), the Superman film franchise (30), Mickey Mouse (80), Angelina Ballerina (25), The A-Team (25), Battlestar Galactica (30) and Spongebob Squarepants (ten).
Hitchcock also highlights a number of toy properties which visitors should be on the look-out for: IDBIDS (a green brand that is directed toward promoting environmental awareness for children); Dr Suess and Jim Henson (both new to the show this year); art property Killer Pumpkins; various products and promotions tied to Disney’s High School Musical 3, Camp Rock, Wall-E and Hannah Montana; Nickelodeon’s Wonderpets, Naked Brothers Band and iCarly; Clone Wars (Lucas Licensing); Yo Gabba Gabba (Wild Brain/RDF); The Electric Company (Sesame Workshop); Bakugan (Nelvana) and Bella Sara (ITV/Granada).