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Being a B&LLA: “Being a Brand Ambassador is a huge privilege and a huge honour”

LicensingSource.net speaks to five former winners on what it’s like to take home a coveted Brand Ambassador Award at the B&LLAs.

Retailers, licensees and brand owners will gather at the Royal Lancaster London this Thursday afternoon (27 April) for the 2023 Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards.

Celebrating some of the most successful and noteworthy licensing partnerships of the past 12 months, the awards will culminate with the prestigious Brand Ambassador Award, which recognises a single individual for their significant contribution to the licensing industry.

LicensingSource.net caught up with five former recipients and asked them what being a B&LLA Brand Ambassador means to them, and how they feel the licensing industry has evolved over the past few years.

ambassador500x500Angela Farrugia, founder, Brand x Society – B&LLA Brand Ambassador 2016

“It was incredible to be named as the first Brand Ambassador at the B&LLAs – it was an absolute honour and very emotional. I had no idea that it was coming and when I heard my name, my heart went crazy. It was personally a huge moment and one that I’m still extremely proud of. Having spent a lifetime helping to shape the industry, there wasn’t enough time to be grateful to everyone who had helped me get there.

The licensing industry has evolved in all sorts of good ways with partnerships and collaborations becoming part of the normal marketing mix. As a business model, licensing is now accepted and understood by the leading luxury brands as well the more traditional kids’ entertainment businesses. Above all, licensing now represents a real career choice, having been a side option for so many years – and as one of the major business drivers in the world, it’s an industry that every marketeer should understand.”

RichardPinkRichard Pink, md, Pink Key Licensing – B&LLA Brand Ambassador 2018

“I was delighted to win the Brand Ambassador Award. After the genuine shock of receiving it and attempting to make a speech, the most enjoyable part of it was the response from so many people immediately and in the days afterwards. It says a lot about our industry that so many people were pleased for me, and I know that other winners have felt the same. By and large it’s a group of dedicated people who are extremely good at celebrating success and recognition, whether it’s their own or not!

Covid has had a profound effect on our industry. Some trends that were on the rise already have been accelerated, particularly the consumer move to online shopping. However, the chaos has had long-term repercussions, not only on practical issues like transport and warehouse storage; it’s also changed attitudes, which I think is actually going to make breaking through with new IP more difficult that it might have previously been. There is a more natural tendency to avoid risk and I think this might last for a while yet. However, I’m an eternal optimist and I know that great ideas, innovation and creativity will always win out.”

LaurenSizelandLauren Sizeland, head of licensing and business development, V&A – B&LLA Brand Ambassador 2019

“Initially when my name was called I was almost in disbelief. Once the reality had sunk in, I was truly grateful for the accolade and the recognition it stands for. I am incredibly fortunate to have the authority to license the world’s most magnificent archive of decorative arts, which offers boundless opportunities. I am so very grateful to all those who have supported and believed in me over the years, particularly my team and our licensees, who patiently endure my constant quest for perfection.

There has been a major upswing in heritage brands entering the licensing arena. As governments and funding bodies across the globe tighten their purse strings, it is critical to build robust and sustainable revenue and brand promotion activities that extend beyond those institutions’ brick and mortar. These locations also offer a broader opportunity – LBE – which is their centuries-old core expertise!

In this current environment of consumer caution, brands with authenticity and a story to tell are in a very strong position to identify and create opportunities that are differentiated and really stand out. Consumers have become more discerning and sentiment is increasingly to support worthwhile causes, and this trend feeds that demand.”

WillB&LLAs500x500Will Stewart, founder and ceo, The Point.1888 – B&LLA Brand Ambassador 2020

“The award was a huge surprise, a huge privilege and a huge honour. Prestigious external awards validate your effort and endorse your methodology. The award really helped put us on the map within the industry and allowed us to attract bigger clients.

Our industry is in a tough spot right now. The cost of living crisis puts extra pressure on brand licensing due to the higher cost of licensed ranges vs retail own brands. However, retailers need licensed brands more than ever. They bring credibility and excitement to their sites, which ultimately drives footfall and sales. The big changes we have seen are that buyers are even more demanding (impossible to believe!). They know what they want and what they want to pay. They are under unbelievable pressure and only by working in partnership with them can we launch bigger cross-category ranges.”

DanielAvenerDaniel Avener, ceo, MDR Brand Management – B&LLA Brand Ambassador 2021

“I absolutely treasure my B&LLA. For me, it’s an acknowledgement of the unique brand of brand management that we offer our clients. It’s also recognition of the fantastic work done by the team that I work with, who I’m extremely proud of. And obviously, it was great to win the award on a personal level.

I’ve been in the industry for a long time, but I still really enjoy it. Yes, there are global challenges, but I believe that when you have a strong brand and strong consumer appeal, and innovation is at the heart of everything you do, then the future is super bright. When it comes to food and beverage and health and beauty, we’re very much bucking the trend of reduced consumer spending with global brands like Hershey’s and Revlon, because people still want to treat themselves, and because of the equity that those brands enjoy.

Definitely within licensing there are cyclical trends, but we’re fortunate in that we’re a global company, so we can geographically map the future of our business by territory and by market and work out bespoke strategies. Another trend is that consumers are looking for authenticity and sustainability; they’re asking, why is this company doing X, Y, and Z? When we look at mapping out a strategy for a brand we make sure it really delivers something that has a value for the consumer through all of those things.”

AdamBassAdam Bass, director, Golden Goose – B&LLA Brand Ambassador 2022

“Having started in licensing with very little experience and very few contacts, being acknowledged in front of an industry and peers that I have come to know and love over the past 20 years was a real confidence boost. Awards like this put the onus on us as a business to be representative of the industry and set best practices, which is something we have always striven to do.

There has certainly been a transformation in corporate brand licensing over the past 20 years. Naomi Klein’s book No Logo triggered a step change and forced brands to recognise their potential as global agents of change, and now we see an increasing number of branded businesses looking to be a force for good. This makes businesses more conscious of the reputational risk of brand extensions, which, in turn, leaves the field open for those brands brave enough to embrace the opportunity to develop products through partnerships. The challenge is for licensing to identify and spotlight those positive global trends that consumers will appreciate as value-adds. We recognise the responsibility to create desirable, well-made things that consumers are going to use and keep, rather than disposable, instantly forgettable ranges. We don’t always get it right but it’s a goal that keeps us motivated.”

The Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards 2023 takes place on Thursday 27 April at the Royal Lancaster London. You can check out the finalists by clicking this link.

For final tickets for the Brand & Lifestyle Licensing Awards 2023, please contact Clare at Createvents on clare@createvents.co.uk or call 0118 334 0085, or you can reserve and pay online at the Max Publishing Digital Box Office.

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