The Source chats to svp of UBM’s Global Licensing Group, Jessica Blue, about this week’s show.
With Licensing Expo 2017 having been one of the most successful shows to date, the organising team at UBM is heading into the 2018 event on a high.
Last year saw the successful debut of Licensing Week, a streamlined period of licensing industry happenings – set to be repeated in 2018 – combining networking events, the Licensing University, Opening Night Party and entertainment showcases into a cohesive schedule. And attendees definitely appreciated the changes, says Jessica Blue, svp of the Global Licensing Group at UBM.
“The show has become more international over the past four years and we’ve seen substantial international attendee growth, including an 87% increase in attendees from South Korea and a 23% increase in attendees from Japan,” she says. “Product categories have also grown considerably – video games have experienced a 46% increase and TV, video, filming and streaming followed closely with a 45% increase. Property categories have also grown with increased presence from Home & Housewares, Food & Beverage, and Toys & Games.
“We had more than 406 exhibitors representing over 5,000 brands and onsite re-book was at 84% at the conclusion of Licensing Expo 2017, which was very exciting.”
Jessica expects this year’s event to have the “most vibrant and jam-packed” floor yet. “We’re thrilled to welcome an entire class of new exhibitors and properties to the Licensing Expo floor this year,” she continues. “As the industry continues to grow each year, more and more brands are embracing licensing.”
Some of the new brands and properties joining the throng for the first time include Country Music Association, Gearbox Software, Major League Baseball Players Association, Penguin Random House, Spin Master, Tetris and US Marine Corps to name just a few.
In addition, the Art & Design section of the show is also expanding, with new exhibitor highlights this year including Van Gogh Museum Enterprises, National Palace Museum and tokidoki among others.
The Matchmaking Service is also back, having seen more than 3,800 meetings scheduled prior to last year’s show; an increase of over 1,200 meetings from 2016.
Jessica says: “The feedback has been extremely positive as it’s one of our most engaging features of the show. Confirmed meetings are already tracking well ahead of last year at an increase of 350%. We’ve made small changes to the user interface to improve the user’s experience and improved our communications regarding the service with instructional videos and best practices.”
For those first timers at the show this year – both exhibitors and visitors – Jessica has this advice: “It’s crucial to plan in advance. If you’re leaving your business development up to chance, you’re likely to miss opportunities.”
After its success last year, Licensing Week will return in 2018 with UBM revealing a raft of educational and experiential activity which is set to take place.
New to the programming slate for this year is InventHelp’s Virtual Invention Browsing Experience (VIBE). This aims to connect enterprising brand owners and manufacturers with forward-thinking inventors looking to bring the newest products to market.
Meanwhile, the Licensing University will once again boast a full schedule of seminars, roundtable and panel sessions. Subjects will cover international licensing, how AR/VR technologies will affect licensing and piracy issues among others.
This year’s Opening Keynote (taking place on Tuesday May 22) will be delivered by Nicholas Denissen, vp of Amazon, who will speak to how brands can grow their business online and what Amazon is doing to enable them.
“Licensing Week was born out of a desire to give our attendees a well-rounded, 360 degree experience at Licensing Expo, and this year’s line-up certainly reflects this mission,” says Jessica. “From the VIBE activation to the networking sessions and Licensing University educational talks and content, I’m confident that anyone seeking to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the licensing world will walk away with practical tools they can immediately put to use.”
Get the party started
The first night of the show plays host to two key networking events, ‘must attends’ for both visitors and exhibitors.
First up, the LIMA 2018 International Licensing Awards event (which is free of charge to attend) takes place on-site at the Mandalay Bay following the end of the show. A total of 132 nominees from 16 countries have been named in the shortlist, with LIMA saying that a record 42% of nominees originate from outside the US. This marks a 68% increase from last year.
Charles Riotto, LIMA president, comments: “This is a banner year for the LIMA Licensing Awards programme. We received a record 700 submissions, which truly reflects the broad scope of licensing from around the world.
“The prestige – not to mention the sense of competition – is greater than ever and we are excited to see it all play out at the awards ceremony at Licensing Expo.”
Meanwhile, for those looking to carry on the celebrations, the official Opening Night Party will take place immediately following the awards at the Mandalay Bay, in the neighbouring Islander G ballroom. The party will take on a 1990’s theme as it marks 20 years of License Global, so attendees should get ready to party like it’s 1998.