A week past the annual Brand Licensing Europe, many of its exhibitors and visitors are still euphoric about what they have seen, heard, and learned at the event. The pace of the event’s year-by-year expansion and international development didn’t remain unnoticed. As stated by one of the visitors, “Several years ago exhibitors only occupied 2/3 of a floor." This year, according to the visitor, Brand Licensing Europe welcomed a record number of attendees and exhibitors, now on two floors. And, indeed, the international spirit filled every corner of the expo, encouraging the attendees to mingle and establish new partnerships. As for us, we couldn’t feel more energized, ambitious, and motivated after all we’ve seen and everyone we’ve met at the expo. All that inspired us to express our thoughts and thank everyone who has contributed to our BLE experience. Here we go!
All stands at BLE 2017 represented a great variety of brands and unique intellectual properties from all over the world. Notably, the expo has been strategically divided into several zones, including:
- Character & Entertainment Brands, represented by music, gaming, film, and TV licensors.
- Branded & Lifestyle Properties, such as sports, corporate, fashion, and celebrity brands.
- Art, Design, & Image Brands, demonstrating individual artists’, designers’, and illustrators’ works.
Separate areas included the Retail Lounge for retailers' meetings with their licensing partners. In the Product Showcase area, numerous brands presented the samples of their fresh art, entertainment, and consumer licensed products. Furthermore, Game Activation Area shone a light on ways to take gaming IPs 'from screen to score'. It also comprised a mock retail environment that showcased a range of gaming properties.
International Spirit of Brand Licensing Europe
All in all, BLE has hosted a few tens of nationalities among the exhibitors this year. Some companies based in the same countries would unite together to represent their properties on one stand. Some of them demonstrated truly unique results, for example:
Korean pavilion, representing the leading licensing brands from Korea, was fueled by government agency KOCCA, which supports numerous Korean companies including gaming organizations.
The Russian pavilion impressed with stands full of remarkable merchandise and well-recognized characters warmly greeting the expo visitors. The represented licensors included renowned animation studios and agencies already familiar to the international licensing circles.
Another great example of a united was represented by Spain-based brands and brand agencies seeking to expand their properties on the international licensing arena. Among them, again, are notable animation studios and entertainment brands.
Seminars and Presentations
As always, the expo organizers have thoroughly planned the educational agenda for each of BLE days. As a result, this year The Live Stage and Seminar Theatre has seen 35 different lectures and performances. All of them were of the current industry's interest, revolving around the dazzling brand licensing trends and topics. Our top five picks among this year’s BLE seminars include the following:
- Gaming: Dispelling the Myths, where international gaming and game-related organizations such as Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, Activision, MCV, UKIE, and told how they unleash the hidden potential of their brands through licensing.
- The UK Videogames Industry, another brilliant game-themed seminar led by Dorian Block of GfK Entertainment.
- Kelvyn Gardner’s Introduction to Licensing, in which this acknowledged licensing master provides fundamental insights that will make licensing understandable to everyone, regardless of their experience and background.
- The 7 Deadly Sins of Brand Licensing, held by John Burns of Gateley LLC, covering the most common licensing mistakes and offering highly practical tips on how to avoid them.
- Playing with Brands: A Look At The Design Process Behind Toys And Games, where Billy Langsworthy, the co-founder of Mojo Nation,
Apart from the major expo events, there were a few happenings that took place outside the main expo premises. Some that are truly worth mentioning, in our opinion, are the following:
Licensing.biz party, taking place on the first evening of the expo was meant to bring licensing professionals together in a casual environment, where they’d forget about their business agendas and focus on actually getting to know one another. In a word, the organizers have successfully fulfilled this mission. On the other hand, the organizers have granted rewards to a few representatives of the licensing society honoring their outstanding branded properties.
The Garden Party, which is already an essential tradition at BLE, was nothing less than spectacular. Excellent interior, amazing range of drinks, and delicious meals have made the event remarkable already in the early stage. Later on, the party has offered a karaoke competition and some creative activities supported by one of the event’s sponsor.
All in all, it makes good sense why some of the prominent industry professionals name Brand Licensing Europe the biggest licensing event in the world. And while its capacity might not be outstanding compared to some other industry expos, its influence and recognizability certainly are. Ultimately, there isn’t a show of such sweep like that of this expo, considering its program, attendance rates, and accessibility. And there likely won’t be any in years ahead.