Source: License! Global
Target’s Brit Chicks
Brand Licensing Europe is bucking trends: biggest-ever show floor, more attendees, new features, a wider reach and a bigger conference program. The challenging retail climate will be top of mind among attendees, but so will a desire to see the new properties being launched, as well as the classics returning to attract new partners. Gaming industry executives will be at BLE to learn more about licensing and a record number of retailers will be walking the show floor to see what licensing can do for them. And brand owners have never been more receptive and organized in their ability to listen and develop new ideas. The task, of course, is to turn the optimism into products that make good business sense.
Superheroes will be a major force on the BLE show floor for every generation and in wide applications across licensed products, advertising, promotions and high-end fashion ranges, hoping to entice consumers out of the gloom and back into the stores.
Among the prominent highlights will be the Batman franchise and Marvel Universe. The Batmobile will greet attendees in the forecourt of Olympia, celebrating the success of the Warner Bros. franchise. Inside, Marvel will promote its next four inter-connected movies from the home of Iron Man, the office of Stark Industries.
Turner CN Enterprises’ “Ben 10 Alien Force”
Cross referencing among Marvel’s four upcoming films (Iron Man 2 in 2010, Thor and Captain America in 2011 and The Avengers in 2012) is something Simon Philips, worldwide head of consumer products, says appeals to retailers and licensees: “It means these films aren’t one-shot hits.”
Remastering often-flawed and complex superheroes for a younger audience is also a successful trend. Marvel’s new TV series, “Superhero Squad,” introduces the main Marvel heroes in a new animation for children. “We wanted to create a series that would drive merchandise,” says Philips.
Warner Bros.’ “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” is doing the same for younger fans.
The Big Screen
In addition to superheroes, there are other film properties that will be featured this year as the BLE screening suites play host to revivals and sequels, denouements and the brand new.
For new and British, there is St Trinian’s, with a fashion apparel-led offering for teen girls from Rocket Licensing.
Warner Bros.’ “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”
The Licensing Company brings the Smurfs movie (Sony), based on the early 1980s hit characters for 2010. The CGI movie will generate limited adult product for retro fans and introduce a new generation to the Smurfs ahead of a full-blown licensing program next year.
Warner Bros. will preview the Harry Potter finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, and explain its plans for the future of the brand, with a sneak preview of other theatrical releases coming in 2010 and 2011.
The back catalog is no longer a refuge of the old and tired. Rather, it can provide a choice of familiar and favorite properties that tick the 1980s retro trend box, as well as giving retailers a wide range of something different. This year, Rocket Licensing features MGM’s classics, including Rocky, Robocop, Some Like It Hot and classic Westerns. Rocky has already spawned a best-selling bathrobe from Groovy and T-shirts from Trademark. Rocket is looking for more partners for the property.
TLC brings Paramount titles, including Grease, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Flashdance and is looking ahead in 2011 to several new releases including Footloose, Tintin, and Johnny Depp’s Rango.
The second film in the Twilight series from Summit Entertainment, New Moon, opens in November. This property, which made its retail debut at Hot Topic last year in the U.S., is being expanded to other major retailers. E1 Entertainment is licensing Twilight in the U.K. where it’s already popular in specialty stores.
The Last Airbender from Nickelodeon is, as head of U.K. licensing Clare Piggott, puts it, “something very new for Nick. It is our first major blockbuster film opportunity as a licensor.” Nick anticipates strong appeal among 6 to 13 year olds (including girls) and is looking for partners to join Spin Master for a fully immersive toy range for the film releasing late summer 2010.
Attendees can expect to find well-thought-out properties being pitched this year for this is a mature and saturated marketplace, even if each European territory boasts its own hits and quirks.
There are some significant new properties for children making their debut at BLE, including Classic Media’s “Tinga Tinga Tales;” Ludorum’s “Dennis and Gnasher;” BBC’s “Tronji;” and Giochi Preziosi’s Gormiti.
Classic Media’s “Tinga Tanga Tales”
In the girl power corner, Target Entertainment will be launching its lifestyle brand called Brit Chicks. TLC brings Moxie Girlz from MGA. The dolls and books property based on friendship and fashion already has full retail distribution in the U.K.
Rainbow Productions will continue to highlight “Winx Club,” now in its fourth season; Nickelodeon will feature “i-Carly;” and Coolabi will feature Scarlett & Crimson, its new girls movement. The first two Scarlett & Crimson books were published recently by Simon and Schuster and the Web site is about to go live. The Scarlett & Crimson range of gift cosmetics and toiletries for the U.K. market, developed by beauty industry celebrities Ruby Hammer and Millie Kendall, will arrive in Boots for Christmas.
Lazytown, hot on the heels of a successful tie-in with Asda and The Sun newspaper, continues its quest for global health and well-being. There are new agents for some European territories, new TV in Spain where the program is very popular and a new style guide.
Warner Bros. is looking to extend its Looney Tunes Active initiative, which has already scored a number of successful partners across Europe.
Aardman’s “Timmy Time”
BBC Worldwide is launching an impressive four new properties. “Tronji” is a unique new concept from Ragdoll with huge collectible potential; “Dirtgirlworld” brings song and dance, mechanics and mud in a stylish execution by Decode; Mick Inkpen’s “Wibbly Pig;” and the new musical show for preschoolers, “ZingZillas,” are currently in production.
Turner CN Enterprises will showcase its full-service offering with something for everyone, including “Ben 10: Alien Force,” “Bakugan,” “The Secret Saturdays” and its new children’s karaoke format, “Staraoke.”
And for big boys, Rocket Licensing, which has quickly become the champion of boys-will-be-boys licensing, will be hosting a Scalextric challenge to celebrate its signing of the Hornby family of brands that include Hornby, Scalextric, Airfix and Corgi.
In addition to “Timmy Time,” Aardman will present “Shaun the Sheep” and its plans for the future of “Wallace and Gromit.”
BRB Internacional will bring new brands, as well as its classic “Bernard,” the polar bear who travels the world without a clue as to the social rules, a series that has become a stand-alone brand based on its solid TV performance all over the world. Now in its third season, an animated film (My Friend Bernard) and a 3D feature-length film (SuperBernard) are set for 2012.
Other preschool properties at BLE include: “Waybuloo” from RDF; “Fluffy Gardens” from Target Entertainment; “Postman Pat” and “Guess with Jess” from Classic Media.
Chorion’s focus continues on “Mr Men,” “Noddy in Toyland,” and “Olivia.” It will also announce a new preschool series set underwater, called “Octonauts.” “We don’t want to lose our focus on publishing-based brands. And it’s good in the current climate to be with long-term brands,” explains Chorion’s Bettina Koeckler.
E1 Entertainment, which is best known as the home of “Peppa Pig” (104 more episodes were recently commissioned), will introduce its “Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom” for a 2010 product launch (it airs on Nick Jr. and the first licensees are in place) and “Humf” from King Rollo.
Nickelodeon is looking ahead to Dora the Explorer’s 10th anniversary with a new style guide and tagline, “Explorers Wanted.” Maisy (by Lucy Cousins) is no stranger to the show floor, but her publisher, Walker Books is. Walker makes its debut this year at BLE to talk, in particular, about Maisy (which it now licenses in house) and the whole world of Lucy Cousins. Her latest book, a retelling of classic fairy tales in her unmistakably direct and colorful style, was just published.
Licensees and retailers can no longer sit back and ignore an industry that generates thousands of new properties every year, engages millions of consumers on a daily basis, appeals to all generations and spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on supporting its brands. It’s another genre of entertainment, but what’s different is that it is only at the beginning of its cycle. Once the purview of online shops and specialists, some game brands are now ripe to be claimed by a retail “home” on the high street.
King Rollo’s “Humf”
Ubisoft takes the floor at BLE for the first time this year, a producer, publisher and distributor of video games worldwide with one of the broadest portfolios in the industry including 17 multimillion unit-selling brands such as Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy’s Imagine and Petz franchises.
TLC’s The Smurfs movie
Target Entertainment has been working hard to market the opportunity of licensing games to licensees and retailers since it took on the Sony portfolio of game brands, which includes EyePet coming in December 2009 (the first foray into the kids zone for Sony), God of War, Little Big Planet and Invizimals (launching January 2010).
Lego is setting its own trends in the licensed games field. Following the success of the Lego Star Wars, Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones games, it is looking ahead to the Lego Harry Potter game (years one to four at Hogwarts) and Lego Rock Band.
Arrivano gli italiani!
With home-grown properties, international successes and new business models to boot, Atlantyca is exhibiting Geronimo Stilton, the journalist mouse from the Italian book series with TV made by Moonscoop.
Cathay Creative’s Miss Little Lizzy
Giochi Preziosi’s Gormiti is the biggest growing boys brand in Europe with a reported 43 percent market share in Italy. Hot all over Europe, Gormiti is represented for licensing in the U.K. by TLC and is on the brink of gaining popularity with its TV debut on Nickelodeon this September.
Lego Builds on Core, Click to view larger.
Big Bocca, an affiliate of Upper Deck, the trading card company, will promote “Huntik: Secrets and Seekers” with its partner on the show, Rainbow SpA. The boys action adventure has 40 international licensees already on board. Rainbow also brings its girls series, “Winx Club,” now in its fourth season, each of which has launched a fashion range for Winx characters, dolls and consumers. It is in 100 countries with 600 active licensees. Its new incarnation for girls aged 5 to 11, Pop Pixie, is coming next.
Art and Design
Art, design and image licensing can be big, bold, beautiful, impressive, crazy, classy, cutesy, botanical and, quite often, the next big retail thing. Think back to Violent Veg or Bang on the Door, Rachel Hale or Withits, which all started in two dimensions and have become product favorites. This year’s expo features The Science Photo Library’s extraordinary collection of images of the natural world and of key scientific events and Tosh’s urban views. There’s also new original work from Kate Knight, fantasy from Anne Stokes, Cathay Creative’s charming Miss Little Lizzy and hundreds of cute and cuddlies.
The heritage sector has been growing steadily for years and now offers some of the most innovative products in the marketplace. This year, BLE features, among others, Historic Royal Palaces, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, the Royal Horticultural Society and the V&A, with a selection of products that constantly delights, thanks to the richness of its archive and imagination of its licensees.
London’s Royal Opera House is looking for a small and perfectly formed collection of licensed products with a deep connection to the House and the Royal Ballet brands. Dancewear from Freddy clothing is already on sale at retail. “With The Royal Opera House comes an opportunity to get involved with a brand right at the beginning of its program,” says Gwyneth Campling, licensing manager, who is thinking ahead to products such as fragrance, luggage and china.
Since a direct-to-retail deal with Marks and Spencer last year, The Natural History Museum’s licensing has expanded with products from 26 licensees, including T-Rex cakes and remote-controlled spiders. There are some 50,000 images to choose from. A BBC series next year looks behind the scenes at the museum and explores the link between science and commerce.
Sport brands will make a big impact at BLE this year, whether it’s Moto GP, Manchester United or NBA, which now boasts more than 60 licensees across Europe. Its efforts continue both in licensing and in growing the popularity of NBA basketball in territories like the U.K., which lags in terms of a following behind France, Spain and Russia.
Beanstalk’s Vespa adidas shoes
Brand extension agency Beanstalk has expanded in the last year opening an office in Hong Kong in a year that managing director Ciaran Coyle says, “is good for investing not retrenching.” Beanstalk has also signed Lee Cooper for Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries and will introduce a core range of denim apparel. Coyle also sees more iconic co-branding programs such as the Vespa adidas range of shoes in the near future.