Ten Years of Brand Licensing

From the Landmark Hotel to Olympia, Advanstar's Brand Licensing show has been through many changes and it is now considered by many to be the definitive showcase for the European licensing industry. As it approaches its tenth birthday, Samantha Loveday asks some key execs for their views on the event...
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“I think it is has become more of a key fixture in the licensing calendar. My impression is that it is more of a 'must do' event for people from all sides of the licensing business. The level of focus and commitment seems to have changed as well. There is a sense of build into the show and I think exhibitors are much cuter about using it as a promotional platform for their portfolios. I think the interest from retail has changed for the better as well. The show is also becoming more of a mixed market with different forms of licence available. I think the industry has matured and is now offering a range of properties that cater for a wider demographic pool."
Ian Downes, MD, Start Licensing

“It has established itself as the key UK licensing event, providing a forum for all elements of the industry to come together. Over the past few years the international visitor numbers have grown and the potential is really to develop to become the premier European licensing event. It provides a great forum for two days for retailers/prospective partners to make very effective use of their time and see and understand the properties and the brands they should be considering. Over the last three years, the show has also become more retail focused to support retailers in attending and getting the most from the show."
Sean Clarke, Head of Aardman Rights

“With Licensing International moving to Las Vegas next year, many people are of the opinion that Brand Licensing Europe will become an even bigger European event.
I think one of the main differences in the industry today is the retail influence. It was fairly uncommon ten years ago for licensing companies to work directly with retailers - now it's a critical part of the way we operate. Brand Licensing gives us a forum to expose our brands to all the key retail buyers under one roof in an atmosphere which is conducive to holding meaningful conversations. For those of us with non-broadcast properties, the show provides an important shop window and a great opportunity to launch new projects and initiatives."
Janet Woodward, Head of Licensing, Coolabi

“I can’t identify one event, except for my very first show. I was about to start my first job in licensing and I walked into the Lancaster and saw all the booths and thought ‘wow, what an incredible industry’ and how much fun I was going to have.”
Lisa Shapiro, MD, TLC Entertainment

“The show has become an annual calendar event with many more exhibitors and visitors, which creates a real buzz within the industry. Brand Licensing has recognised the changes in the industry by making sure more space is provided to the attendees and also ensuring that more people are aware of the show than ever before. They also organise some really helpful seminars and conferences with some of the key people within the industry presenting."
Richard Woolf, Director of International Licensing, JCP

“It's grown exponentially over the years - particularly in terms of the amount of buyers that attend the show, which I think is testament to the skill of the organisers in making this one of the key shows in the year. The show is increasingly strongly marketed and very well attended.
What is great about the show is the fact that - more than other shows - it represents a united front from brand licensors and licensees across the board. Our greatest competitors are own-brands so BLE is a great showcase for the licensed product industry as a whole."
Richard Hollis, Head of UK Licensing, BBC Worldwide

“It has without doubt become a far bigger and better show and is rapidly establishing itself as one of the must attend trade shows of the year. Perhaps the single biggest testament to Brand Licensing's success is that the quantity and quality of both exhibitor and visitor has improved steadily over each of the last ten years, this trend perhaps accelerating over recent years which, for the brands owned and represented by Chorion, is a vitally important consideration against the array of shows that we exhibit and attend.
The licensing industry of ten years ago was only just beginning to understand and exploit the many different ways a brand's equity could be developed and Brand Licensing has adapted to change, seeking new partners to educate, exhibitors to showcase and visitors to create demand for these innovations."
Keith Pashley, European Marketing Manager, Copyrights

“The industry is more professional and more confident now. That has been reflected in the quality of the show - particularly the designs of the stands and the ancillary offerings that Advanstar have developed; innovations like the Screening Suite, for example. The most bizarre was probably in 2006 with the photo-stunt on the tube at Olympia station with the Rainbow costume characters. Commuters mingled with Homer Simpson, Dennis the Menace and other assorted characters, as if totally oblivious to their presence. Mind you, meeting Samantha Loveday for the first time with a conker in my hand takes some beating.”
David Scott, MD, Rainbow Productions

"Brand Licensing has grown beyond all recognition over the past ten years. The look of the show and the stands are much sophisticated and the marketing of the show is excellent, now reaching far beyond the usual suspects. The show is becoming recognised as a European show with people from all around the world now attending. One of the key changes for me has been the drive to bring more European retailers and licensees to the show, which for a business with international brands is really important."
Jane Evans, MD, Jane Evans Licensing Consultancy

"Olympia has now become a must attend show for lots of companies who may not have been aware of it in the early days. The venue has been changed to accommodate the growth of additional companies wanting to exhibit. It's also been great to see the big hitting licensors exhibit again after many years of not taking space; this helps demonstrate the importance of licensing in today's fickle consumer marketplace."
Mel Beer, Licensing Director, Granada Ventures

"When I first started in the licensing business in the early 1980s with the first three Star Wars movies, there were probably 20 licensing agencies and now there are at least 200. I believe most people now understand what a licence agreement means and it is even more important to update retailers with details of the brand profile and exposure of licences than in the past.
One of the most memorable show moments of the 2005 event was having three toy companies chasing after the Underground Ernie rights on the LIMA booth. Almost all our meetings took place on the booth as we did not have our own on that particular occasion, and I still owe Andrew Levy a game of golf for his kindness and hospitality. David Halsall got the deal in the end."
Andrew Maconie, MD, LMI

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