Adam Bass, md of Golden Goose, floats some alternative awards categories which could reflect the unprecedented nature of the past 18 months.
Thankfully after the disruption caused by the pandemic, this year saw the return of the much-loved Licensing Awards and Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards, with both firmly back in our business calendar.
However, I’ve also come up with some exceptional award categories for what could perhaps form the Pandemic Lifestyle & Licensing Awards (or the P&LLAs).
The Cry into your Soup Award
To all who saw a product fail to launch, an event cancelled, a film rushed out on Netflix, we feel your pain. Licensing needs careful, patient shepherding of partnerships to fruition and the disintegration of one side of the partnership is generally fatal to success.
As a licensing agency we’ve seen plenty of licensees fail, but to see established clients fall was definitely a shock. While tempted to claim the win for our unseen Oasis Furniture range in Sainsburys/Argos, feel free to send in your nominations. Beware though, this award may never actually be presented.
The Empty Bag of Cash Award
Nominations include restaurant brands that missed their chance to licence into retail (see examples elsewhere) and any brand (our clients included) that turned their nose up at Iceland, B&M, The Range and Home Bargains which saw massive revenue growth last year.
The clear winner though is the NHS which, in 2020 alone, could have generated enough money to temporarily fill its constantly emptying money bucket. Sadly, the strategy piece we delivered in 2018 is still sitting on a government desk somewhere. Other nominations are welcome but they are likely to be ducked, delegated, ignored or overlooked.
With even Pret and Primark closed for business, it was definitely adapt or die for business. Events went virtual, restaurants sold DIY food kits, pubs turned into takeaways and beer brands produced hand sanitiser. Great British entrepreneurialism was put to the test in every sector.
However, our expert judging panel (me) chooses Pret a Manger as the winner: it opened concessions in Tesco and developed retail ready croissants and coffee. Runner up went to the new owner of ‘toiletpaperonline.com’. Entrants for this category should use an alternative company name when applying.
The Peter and Paul School of Finance Award
Licensing is a trust-based business and that has to work both ways. Any licensor that decided to play hardball over royalty payments and minimum guarantees during a nuclear winter of trading conditions was thinking short-term to say the least. While we did our fare share of horsetrading, the overwhelming response from licensees has been to acknowledge and appreciate the flexibility offered and make good eventually.
So, while there may be some manufacturers which are up for this award they are, hopefully, making good on the promises that kept them afloat. In any case, the clear winner is the UK Government’s very own Rishi Sunak who has made the future look far more red than orange.
Licensing success depends on consumers and, if we’ve learnt anything from events forever known as ‘unprecedented’, consumers can suddenly start stockpiling toilet roll, applauding healthcare professionals or donating £30m to fund a 100 year old’s stroll around his garden.
Licensing and retail invest in market opportunity so forecasting is a complex blend of one part intuition, two part analysis, two parts experience and five parts luck.
Forecasts are valuable for setting best case and worst case scenarios but as anyone who read Nassim Taleb’s Black Swan back in 2007 knows: “history is going to be dominated by an improbable event.” He wins this award hands down this year and all future years, until one year he doesn’t.
The Shiva Award
If you successfully developed an alternative income stream, you now have an alternative business. In practise that meant setting up a virtual stand and a real stand at BLE with real life and virtual meetings.
This many-armed god statuette surely goes to Leon’s Henry Dimbleby who somehow found time to advise DEFRA on its food strategy, while also running a restaurant chain and retail operation. If only the UK had some crop-pickers for the recommended healthy food lying in the fields. Next year this prize will be awarded to the person who, in a live competition, can hit the most targets with a bow and arrow simultaneously.
The Life’s Too Short Award
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s the importance of home, family, a stable place to live and good mental health. Anything that gets in the way of these things is no longer desirable (long hours driving up and down the motorway on your own anyone?).
When working from home is so helpful to your work life balance, why would people rush to get back to the office? If you’re running a company with employees the expectation of flexible and remote working is now baked in. The presentation of this award will be via zoom, just make sure to blur your background.
To attend these awards please bring a PCR test, proof of your vaccination status, a sample of blood sweat and tears spent staying afloat during the last 18 months, and validation that your liver is able to tolerate the consumption of your own bodyweight in alcohol. See you there.