The BLE Blog

8 highlights of Licensing Expo

Image courtesy of Licensing Expo

By Darren Brechin, Event Director, Brand Licensing Europe

From Grumpy Cat, Hulk Hogan and the Batmobile to Corona, Fifth Harmony and free ice cream – this year’s Licensing Expo did not disappoint. Billed as the most successful yet, it attracted 16,150 visitors – a 3% increase from the previous year. The show is certainly unique: 232,000 square feet filled with all the industry’s major players, large and small.

Although there was so much to see and do, here are a few of my personal highlights:

1. Unveiling of the Batmobile: the crowd gathered in anticipation, waiting for the moment when the Batmobile from the forthcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice would be unveiled. With a futuristic design and suitably loud revs from the engine; the crowd was impressed and the story made headline news.

2. LIMA reveals global stats: LIMA’s first ever global licensing study made interesting reading, revealing retail sales for licensed goods notched up an estimated $13.4 billion in royalty revenues and $241.5 billion in retail sales in 2014. Entertainment, corporate brands, fashions and sports came out as the top categories – great news for BLE as all of these have strong representation on the show floor. We are looking forward to the country by country breakdown released later in the year.Image courtesy of Licensing Expo

3. YouTube sensations: Bethany Mota addressed a packed-out auditorium as part of the show’s inaugural Digital Media Licensing Summit. The YouTube star with over 8 million subscribers, renowned for her fashion line, talked about building brand awareness and loyalty through constant interaction with her fans, who have become an integral part of the brand itself. This is a huge growth area and something we are looking at closely for BLE.

4. Return of the cult classics – a trend we witnessed at BLE last year with Moomins, Thunderbirds and the Clangers all making an appearance; cult classics were certainly also brought back to life in Vegas. Thirty years after its launch, Hasbro announced partnerships for Jem and the Holograms, the Smurfs were spotted and Peanuts announced an array of partners ahead of its upcoming movie.

5. Brits flying the flag – in addition to The British Heritage Pavilion, it was great to see some familiar British properties on display. Just some of those flying the flag included Tottenham Hotspur, Poldark, Shaun the Sheep and Danger Mouse.

6. OCHHFoAFUAAA61BBpening party – our US colleagues certainly know how to throw a party, and this year’s was no exception. Party-goers kicked off their shoes, danced in the sand and enjoyed an open bar whilst listening to the sounds of Fifth Harmony.

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7. Creative brand tie-ins – my eye was definitely caught by the Marvel and Disney Consumer Products line of superhero-inspired luggage and Sherlock backpacks from BBC Worldwide North America. Other innovative collaborations I came across were the Billboard / Holland America Line interactive music experiences for cruise-lovers, and wallpaper designs inspired by sports club archives and the architecture of the University of Oxford.

8. Girl power – it was interesting to see DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Mattel join forces to launch DC Super Hero Girls. The property involves a new superhero universe featuring DC Comics’ diverse female characters as teens that promotes a message of female empowerment.

We would love to hear your thoughts – what were your highlights?

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