“Our industry at its best”, “busy throughout”, “exciting, relevant and informative”, “a great vibe” just some of the feedback from last week’s show.
LicensingSource.net gathers some feedback from exhibitors at last week’s Brand Licensing Europe 2022.
Jason Rice, director of brand licensing, SEGA Europe
“BLE has been an enormous success for us here at SEGA. I don’t think anyone can have missed our presence at the show. We planned to make a major impact and I think we succeeded. We saw fantastic interest on the show floor throughout the three days and we were thrilled at the reactions to our Sonic Fashion Show which went down an absolute storm to a packed audience. The team was inundated with meetings throughout the three days from all corners of the industry both domestic and internationally.
“The Sonic the Hedgehog licensing business has seen unprecedented acceleration these last two years and it was a great experience seeing these new levels of excitement and passion for the IP from new and existing partners. We are already planning our presence at next year’s show and I can tell you now it will be bigger than ever with a larger stand space booked and major sponsorship options under discussion.
“Congratulations to Anna Knight and the team in pulling off the seemingly impossible… the best BLE ever during an unprecedented week for the capital. See you next year.”
Alexandra Painter, marketing director, Jazwares
“The show was hugely successful for Jazwares and Squishmallows. It was our first time showcasing Squishmallows at BLE, and we could not have been happier with the reception. We had some incredible conversations, with exciting new opportunities to go after. The Squishmallows sofa and claw machine were a hit with attendees, and there was a real buzz on our stand. The show was the perfect opportunity to connect with licensors and brand owners. As a toy manufacturer, first and foremost, BLE is an opportunity for us to catch up with all of our partners. Jazwares had a great week.
“The atmosphere was fantastic. BLE is the licensing industry at its best- collaborative, exciting and fun. We enjoyed spending time with existing and new partners.”
Richard Pink, md, Pink Key Licensing
“As always it’s hard to say how many of the meetings will convert into meaningful partnerships – we probably have to wait a few weeks to find out. Having said that the arranged meetings we had were very positive, particularly with retailers and we had a number of people walk on with some great ideas and potentially new areas for our brands. Overall we’d say that it’s been positive so far.
“I think there was a big buzz at the busiest times and particularly around the events like the catwalk. We thought that the after hours calendar was a bit subdued, but we put that down to the gradual recovery from Covid and the atmosphere following the funeral on Monday. ExCeL is a huge venue and I think sometimes the atmosphere gets as bit lost at either end – but overall we though it was a good positive vibe with people looking for creative ways to drive additional business.”
Livy Coare, licensing and marketing manager, H&A
“It was great to see the buzz of everyone in the licensing industry together again. What really stood out for us this year was that it was a real show of nostalgia and heritage brands, and we’ve looking forward to seeing how that translates into retail next year.”
Francesca Romana Gianesin, head of consumer products EMEA ANZ, Moonbug Entertainment
“Our booth was extremely impactful, reflecting our position as a company at the forefront of kid’s entertainment innovation and evolution. Properties like CoComelon, Blippi and Little Angel are growing massively and BLE provided us with a great space to meet with potential new partners. We were very busy throughout the show; a clear sign of the interest the business community has in us.
“All in all, we hosted an impressive 250 meetings at Brand Licensing Europe with partners joining us from all over EMEA and ANZ. We also have several potential new deals in the pipeline as a result. It provided us with a great opportunity to meet with both retailers and licensees and there appeared to be more international attendees this year which was beneficial for us as well.
“The atmosphere at the show was incredibly upbeat. Meeting face to face has undeniably been important in unlocking potential partnerships and we all really enjoyed the show.”
Ian Wickham, director, Licensing Link Europe
“The quality of the meetings this year were probably comparable to way back in 2018, which for me was the last time there was appetite to buy licences rather than BLE being an exploratory show. In 2019, the show was slightly muted as the UK economy, just before Covid hit, was taking a battering anyway and in 2021 the vibe was one of ‘cautious curiosity’ as BLE was one of the first shows to properly open up. Even though there are significant challenges right now in the consumer product space across multiple disciplines that affect licensors, licensees and retailers across the board, the market this year was optimistic with healthy appetite now for change. Best show for a long time and that includes Expo in the US. This was by far more buoyant and exciting.
“Right from the off on Tuesday, you could feel the buzz across the floor as the hall soon started to fill up. A great mix of licensees in attendance as well as a noticeably strong show of retailers too which was highly encouraging. Great to see such enthusiasm and a general want to get business done. This is the kind of vibe a world leading industry trade show should have. Meeting attendees stuck to appointments too this year. I use the matchmaking service quite a lot so as to spend time with new attendees and businesses I have no connection with and so for me this is an important part of building up the itinerary. 2022 delivered well against previous matchmaking comparisons so very positive indeed.”
Ian Downes, md, Start Licensing
“One of the traditional measures of success for BLE is the number of retail buyers you meet. By this measure this BLE was one of our best ever – we had good meetings with a range of buyers. We also met with existing licensees and encouragingly quite a few new licensees.
“Overall I was very pleased with the show. It was a whirlwind three days and the BLE team should be congratulated for managing the show so well in very challenging conditions. I would also say well done to them for supporting new IP and talent with the License This competition. A really good initiative and an ongoing reminder of our licensing friend Kelvyn Gardner.”
Maarten Weck, evp and md, WildBrain CPLG
“Once again, BLE was a really positive experience for us – we had a very busy stand, and many meetings took place with key licensors, licensees and retailers across the three days. Each of our local territory teams – not just those based in EMEA – had full schedules throughout the show. With our expanded global footprint, in the US, APAC and India, we also had more holistic discussions on worldwide representation, with both existing and potential new partners, across entertainment, corporate and lifestyle brands under our ASPIRE division, sports and location-based entertainment. We’re already seeing business from the show coming through.
“The vibe was positive, attendance was high, and there were good quality meetings taking place. There was a general upbeat feeling about the next 12 months, even with many challenges on a global level outside our control. The fashion theme and the catwalk brought a lot of fun to the show floor, and the Teletubbies taking centre stage to showcase the colourful ellesse X GoGuy collaboration created an exciting buzz for the brand.”
Rob Broadhurst, commercial director, Aykroyd & Sons
“We had a very busy programme of meetings, presentations and events and had a large team, across licensing, sales, marketing and creative, in attendance to help us maximise every minute. A big focus for us was retail involvement, whether it was joint meetings or helping our partners to organise diaries.
“There was a genuine buzz to the place again (despite the doom and gloom around trading, interest/exchange rates, etc) and the aisles felt busy with plenty of noise – the sign of a good show to me.
“There were some great moments, but probably three standouts for me: Hasbro’s showcase got the show off to a great start; the Netflix presentation (including Roald Dahl) made real impact on the last day; and Jazwares made a real impression with their fantastic Squishmallows stand which was buzzing with activity all week.”
Len Dunne, ceo, Fitzwilliam Museum Enterprises
“BLE was an excellent opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. The energy levels were high and we were pleased with the quality of the meetings that we had. I do believe that we’ll see some positive deal flow as a result of participating at BLE 2022.”
Francesca Lisle, md, Lisle Licensing
“BLE this year felt like it was back with a bang. The Informa team did a great job, the free party attracted the masses and there was plenty for visitors to engage with over all three days. Despite the show getting off to a slightly delayed start, we found the quality of meetings we had were very good and the general mood was positive.
“We had lots of walk ons and stand visits, which were buoyed by our Kate Smith Company card giveaway to support Thinking Of You Week. We replenished the cards six times on Wednesday alone.
“It was a positive atmosphere and while of course business is currently challenging, mostly licensees and retailers were open to consider new opportunities and partner extensions, depending on their focuses for the year ahead.”
Mel Beer, group licensing director EMEA, Amscan
“It was a great show for the Amscan Group, finalising new deals that were previously in discussion, confirming renewals and having new franchises to explore coming out of the show. There was a great vibe this year, lots of international visitors returned and everyone was ready to do business and party – even the last day was still busy.
“The way Anna and her team navigated the changes around the show opening was fantastic and we really thought Hasbro hit the spot with their showcase – concise, informative and just long enough to get the job done.”
Eva Karlsson, commercial director, Plus Licensing
“It was a very successful show, both in terms of reconnecting with the industry and old clients, but also meeting new, good, potential partners from new business areas.
“There was a great vibe – but the noise level especially during the catwalk segments was unacceptable; people could not hear each other even if screaming.
“In terms of highlights, so many great things; the overall positive energy was great, the joy of seeing and reconnecting – the new business opportunities developed during Covid.”
Mathieu Galante, licensing director EMEA, The Pokémon Company International
“It was a very successful show, both on a business level and also the more social side. It was great to meet face to face with all our European partners, especially as the team hadn’t had the opportunity to meet some of them in person since the beginning of the pandemic. The Pokémon stand this year was our biggest stand ever at BLE and we were thrilled with the response. We enjoyed a very high attendance and a really positive reaction.
“There was a very good vibe about the place – people felt excited to see that BLE was ‘back to normal’ and buzzing with all the activity of pre-pandemic levels. It felt a bit extra-special for the Pokémon team as it was our comeback since the pre-Covid edition in October 2019 – we didn’t have a stand last year – and it was great to be back.”
Gareth Whelan, head of children’s publishing and consumer magazines publisher, DC Thomson
“Having missed out last year through illness, I was excited to be back at Brand Licensing Europe this year. The experience didn’t disappoint and it was great to connect with existing contacts as well as meet new ones. One unplanned introduction at the Products of Change stand led to a reveal of some shared interests and objectives and is exactly the type of encounter that only an in-person show such as BLE can provide.
“Overall, I found the quality of meetings to be good, the mix of events taking place exciting and relevant and official comms from the event informative and timely throughout. Now it’s all about following up and making sense of my scribbled notes!”
Aidan Taylor-Gooby, head of licensing, Magic Light Pictures
“We had a fantastic BLE this year. It was wonderful to present something new to the industry, and Pip and Posy received a very strong reaction from licensees and retailers.
“The stand felt busy throughout with a good turnout from retailers. We also noticed many more international licensees and agents in attendance this year in comparison with 2021. Huge thanks to all of the organisers in pulling together a great show and managing to rejig the show so effectively at the last minute.”
Emma Saunders, senior licensing manager, Historic Royal Palaces
“Historic Royal Palaces had a very good BLE this year. Although we visited the show last year and took out a virtual stand, we hadn’t exhibited at the show for a few years due to the pandemic, so it was great to be back and showcasing our royal brand again to the industry.
“We met all our pre-booked appointments but also had some very good quality walk ons, which is one of the main reasons to exhibit at the show and maybe due to the timing of the event, our royal brand was capturing a lot of interest, where licensees and retailers expressed particular interest in collaborating in partnership with our British royal heritage brand.
“We thought the atmosphere was vibrant and busy and it finally felt as though we were returning to normal trade. It was great to be among fellow licensors/brand owners and brand representatives, as well as meet up with licensees and retailers and just be back in this incredibly fun and lively industry, full of lovely people.”
Kirsty Guthrie, KJG and Maggy Harris, BlueSkye Licensing
“In brief, BLE was the best BLE we have attended and exhibited at. We were chocka block from start to finish – even the Thursday our meetings continued through to closing time. We had scheduled meetings and some great walk ons with no no-shows. The ambience and atmosphere was electric and full of opportunity and optimism.”
Bethan Garton, chief commercial officer, The Point.1888
“[The show was] excellent – our busiest BLE yet particularly from a retail buyer perspective. There was a huge variety of licensee meetings with a real noticeable increase in walk ons from food and drink companies and overseas. We had also shared pre-recorded brand presentations ahead of BLE which meant the quality of our meetings was really magnified and conversations even more meaningful.
“The atmosphere this year was buzzing with so many more exhibitors and visitors versus last year. Our booth was right next to the catwalk and we were super impressed with the amount of pull that it had.
“Our highlight was spending a full three days together as a team and seeing everyone in action across their brands and categories. As a business we offer fully flexible working so trade shows when we all pull together in person are invaluable.”
Talia Tester, head of licensing, Carte Blanche Greetings
“For us, this year’s show was very important for a number of reasons. Firstly, we were able to meet with some of our key international partners who we have not been able to see in-person since 2019. It was wonderful and beneficial to be able to have discussions without a screen between us and really helped strengthen our relationships.
“Secondly, we were able to use the platform of the show to announce our exciting new agency partnership with Bulldog Licensing, which had a fantastic reaction. Being able to talk about the news face to face with partners and share in the excitement was invaluable. We had meaningful and realistic conversations with our partners, and as showcasing our new creative was also key, it was great to see this have a strong reaction across the board.
“Despite having a very full schedule, we were able to accommodate some interesting walk-on appointments, meaning the show had even more to offer than we had initially planned for. Obvious market challenges aside, the whole team has come away from BLE feeling very buoyant and excited for the possibilities of the year ahead. Networking with industry friends was of course an added bonus, too.”
Sarah Lawrence, This is Iris
“Brand Licensing Europe is always part of our calendar; a key licensing event for all in the industry no matter the area you specialise in.
“It really was a great show for us; being able to sit with partners old and new and bring some together for the first time allowed us to brainstorm new ideas and pin down a couple of exciting new partnerships there and then. On a personal note, I’ve been lucky enough to have attended this show since the very beginning, either as an exhibitor or visitor, and I can confidently say this is was the best show yet.
“For me the show celebrated so many key genres away from the stands, from the PoC space where advisors were there to support and inspire, through to the Catwalk which was a way to bring so many people and organisations from across the globe together in a creative way. Congratulations to all involved; this really was our industry at its best.”
Natalie Harvey, executive director of sales, Acamar Films
“As always we look forward to BLE every year as it’s such a key business event in our calendar. It’s so valuable to meet with our existing partners and retailers, sharing our plans in person. Equally, building new connections is just as important and we welcomed a number of exciting new business contacts and walk ons to the stand. Despite the many challenges that the organisers had to face in the lead up to the event, it felt very well organised and we’d like to congratulate them on another fantastic BLE.
“Meeting face to face brings lots of energy to BLE and it was really encouraging to see the strong attendance at the drinks and social events again this year. The fashion shows were a colourful focal point and the music an added bonus.”