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Brand Licensing Europe 2021: “People were there to do business”

“A huge success”, “quality meetings”, “surpassed all our expectations”, “a positive consistent vibe”, “our most successful show yet” just some of the feedback from last week’s show. gathers some feedback from exhibitors at last week’s Brand Licensing Europe 2021.

Marianne James, vp EMEA and Asia licensed consumer products, Hasbro

How successful was the show for you? “Hugely successful and all things weighed up it surpassed all our expectations; our stand was incredibly busy and thriving every day, both with scheduled meetings and walk-ons, encouragingly not just with licensee walk-ons but with retailer walk-ons. Our stories and brands were well received, so much excitement around our brands and our team with new business opportunities created at the show. We’re ready to build on from all the great momentum.”

Show highlight? “Spending time together as an industry. We’re a sociable and joyful bunch and finally being able to do that again in person was a delight both with our partners, but critically as a Hasbro team, as many of our team are new and joined during the pandemic and hadn’t up to that point had the opportunity to meet each other in person.”


Ian Wickham, director, Licensing Link Europe

How successful was the show for you? “Frustratingly, the week before BLE saw a number of cancellations hit the diary as parts of Europe started to lockdown again and planned attendees passed on their apologies for not being able to take part. However, albeit with lower attendance and smaller show footprint, the meetings we had were definitely positive with an appetite for doing something new. This was the message from both retailers and potential licensees – so a positive consistent vibe both on the stand and around the hall.”

Show highlight? “Our Independents Lounge was a definite highlight. With five different smaller agencies all in the same space and no crossover in the types of licensees represented, then we offered opportunity across a broad miix. This meant the stand was busy – even at 3pm on Friday afternoon! This caused additional interest as walk-ons came across to understand more about what we were offering. A big shout out to Licensing International and Informa for working with us to make this happen in what has been a challenging period.”


Caroline Mickler, md, Caroline Mickler Ltd

How successful was the show for you? “Having been hesitant about exhibiting this year, it turned out to be the most successful show yet! The BLE matchmaking system worked extremely well and we had some solid meetings with some excellent companies – all new to us and also had some meaningful walk ons. Everyone seemed very positive, happy to see each other and to generate some healthy business.”

Show highlight? “The quality of the meetings, but also catching up with industry colleagues from the UK and from the US and Europe. Fantastic.”

Acamar's Louise Simmonds with Bing and Flop at the show.
Acamar's Louise Simmonds with Bing and Flop at the show.

Louise Simmonds, head of UK licensing, Acamar Films

How successful was the show for you? “We loved being back at BLE and spending time with our partners and retailers face-to-face. It’s exciting to once again be able to showcase product, share ideas and discuss initiatives in person. We were delighted with how many people visited our stand, particularly new contacts, which demonstrates the ongoing importance of BLE to our business.”

Overall atmosphere? “We found that there was a renewed sense of positivity and energy for 2022. There were some fantastic presentations and it was encouraging to see the prominence of, and passion around, sustainability alongside constructive discussions on how we navigate that journey as an industry.”


Vickie O’Malley, md, Rockpool Licensing

How successful was the show for you? “The opportunity to share a stand with some fellow Under 2s (boutique licensing agencies and consultants) made it practical for Rockpool to exhibit at BLE for the first time this year. We all agreed it was a rip roaring success. We were so very busy throughout and several visitors commented on the great sense of buzzy energy about the stand and that felt great. The consistent quality of meetings was also evident – it seemed very much as though people were there to do real business and not just to ‘fill the diary.’ All told, BLE 21 exceeded my expectations by quite some margin!”


Maggy Harris, md, BlueSkye Licensing

How successful was the show for you? “KJG and BlueSkye Licensing had a fantastic show. Diaries were full pre the show and we also had some quality walk-ons. Our stand under the ‘Independents Lounge’ was very busy which attracted many newcomers on to it.”

Overall atmosphere? “The aisles were nice and wide, there was excitement to be ‘back’ and to meet person to person. The general consensus from all who we spoke to was enthusiasm and positivity.”


Kirsty Guthrie, md, KJG

Show highlight? “Just being there meeting and seeing old friends and colleagues again whom I haven’t seen in a very long time. It was just fab to be welcomed back into the licensing fold.”

The super-sized scented Strawberry Shortcake chair was a big draw for WildBrain CPLG.
The super-sized scented Strawberry Shortcake chair was a big draw for WildBrain CPLG.

Maarten Weck, evp and md, WildBrain CPLG

How successful was the show for you? “BLE was an extremely successful show for us in many ways. The quality of the meetings we had with licensors, licensees and retailers was very strong, and discussions had real substance. Although a few local European markets saw a limited presence of licensees, the show floor and our stand were nonetheless bustling with activity. The number of walk-ons to the WildBrain CPLG stand was actually higher than in previous years – potentially due to the enthusiasm we saw from delegates for photos with the much-loved Teletubbies or seated in our super-sized scented Strawberry Shortcake chair!”

Overall atmosphere? “The overall vibe of BLE was great – there was lots of positivity and a real buzz on the show floor. There was a clear will to close deals, sign representations and conjure up new activations, even though the industry, in one way or another, is still facing Covid or supply chain issues. It felt like the timing of the show was spot on and the event provided a much-needed boost for the industry.”


Vicky Miller, licensing director, Bulldog Licensing

How successful was the show for you? “BLE was brilliant for us. It was such a pleasure to see our licensors, licensees and retailers again in person after so long, and to catch up with industry friends, too. With huge momentum behind our existing brands and some great new additions to the portfolio, our meetings were all exciting and positive, with lots to follow up on now. We are looking forward to 2022 and beyond.”

Overall atmosphere? “The show had a fantastic and very positive atmosphere, I think everyone was just so pleased to be back! Zoom and Teams have been brilliant to keep us all connected while virtual meetings have been our only option, but nothing beats in person meetings and trade shows. Everyone is optimistic looking to the future, and we are very excited by the conversations we had last week.”


Ian Downes, md, Start Licensing

How successful was the show for you? “My early impression is that BLE will prove successful for us and our clients. We had our own stand but also had meetings on the Aardman and Asterix stands. Good for the step count, but also gave me a good perspective on the show. My view is that there was a great mix of existing licensees and partners, but also some new to licensing contacts plus ‘new to me’ licensees.”

Overall atmosphere? “I think the overall feeling at the show was a sense of positivity that the show was back on the road and that we were able to meet in person. The BLE team created a very positive atmosphere and adapted things well to current circumstances.”

People were there to do business with pre-booked meetings and walk-ons proving fruitful for many.
People were there to do business with pre-booked meetings and walk-ons proving fruitful for many.

Bethan Garton, commercial director, The Point.1888

How successful was the show for you? “We had a hugely successful BLE. Our stand was busier than ever and we even had to hold meetings in the cafe. The meetings we had were very meaningful and have already resulted in new partnerships being forged and brands being expanded into new product areas. It was great to see that so many international visitors had made the trip to BLE and feedback from our sub agents was that the show was business critical for many of them.”

Overall atmosphere? “Although the floor of the show was smaller, the atmosphere was the most buzzing I have ever experienced. The BLE team did a phenomenal job in ensuring BLE 2021 was something to remember.”


Natasha Dyson, co-founder and licensing director, ARTiSTORY

How successful was the show for you? “The show was a huge success for us. We’d set up plenty of meetings before the show, as we were keen to make new contacts rather than meet people we already knew, but also left space for some walk-ons. I feel the meetings we had were of good quality – both walk-ons and prearranged – but it’ll take time to tell how many are really serious to move forward. We were busy right through to the end of the show on Friday and are expecting a proposal from the last meeting on Friday afternoon… the finale to a great few days.”

Show highlight? “The highlight was the feedback we received from everyone. This is the first time we have presented our creative in person and the responses from everyone we met were incredible.”


Laurent Taieb, Motul

How successful was the show for you? “This BLE – Motul’s first – was very successful for us. We were here to show that we had a strong message and did so, both through the very well-received branding of the Motul Café and through regular meetings over the three days of the show. Our aim was to underline our credentials as a property with a powerful identity that encompasses motorsport, heritage and lifestyle, and we definitely succeeded.”

Overall atmosphere? “The atmosphere was great and everyone was clearly delighted to be back. As for Motul, we had some good, very focused meetings and, speaking as someone with a long history in this business, I was thrilled to be at BLE once again, and, of course to see friends, colleagues and partners.”

Richard Pink, md, Pink Key Licensing

A1878FFE-097C-43ED-820B-C494D4AD49B2Overall atmosphere? “The show was smaller than in previous years, less exhibitors and more spaced out – however I think this really worked in everyone’s favour with visitors much more engaged and willing to spend time to understand the brands. It was great to be back to talk to people and demonstrate in person what we do.”

Rob Wijeratna, joint md, Rocket Licensing

How successful was the show for you? “It was great to be back on the Rocket Licensing stand at BLE last week to finally see and engage with existing and potential partners ‘in the flesh’. The buzz and excitement was palpable and it was so good to be able to hear all that ‘corridor chatter’, something that you really can’t replicate in a MT/Zoom meeting or on the online platforms.

“We were extremely busy on the stand, with diaries packed out all three days with meetings that were both positive and productive. It really felt like there was an optimism and desire from both licensees and retailers to continue to commit to classic brands such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Beano or The Elf on The Shelf, but also start looking at new brands, whether it was The European Space Agency (ESA) or Vikings Valhalla.

“It was also our busiest ever show for retail engagement, whether pre-arranged meetings on our stand or walk-ons. It was really noticeable how many retail buyers were at the show, which again illustrates confidence growing in the market.

‘At the end the Rocket team left the show tired, but exhilarated and buzzing, confident that attendees had left the show talking about some of our Rocket brands.”

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