We chat to Knockout Licensing co-presidents Carole Postal and Tamra Knepfer.
Firstly, how has your business been performing in general over the past 12 months?
Carole Postal: One of the highlights of this past year was winning the LIMA Licensing Excellence Award for Best Film, Television or Live Action Entertainment Program for our Downton Abbey work. We are proud of the work Knockout did with NBCUniversal International Studios and all our great licensees to transform an Edwardian period television drama airing on PBS Masterpiece into a buzz-worthy and evergreen lifestyle brand with a wide range of products complete with elegantly stylish jewellery, furniture, home décor, special tea blends, and even new breeds of roses all inspired by the series.
Tamra Knepfer: Another highlight was expanding our fantastic portfolio of period television properties with the additions of Poldark and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries to Downton Abbey and Outlander so now we really have something for everyone.
CP: On a sadder note, the passing of Knockout/CopCorp evp Robert Postal this past year was, of course, a great loss to our agency. Bob was instrumental in the formation of Knockout Licensing, a partnership in concert with CopCorp, and always on the lookout for exciting new brands with strong licensing potential.
We’re proud to say Bob’s spirit lives on in the way our agency is constantly on the watch for new or previously overlooked brands that fit emerging trends and opportunities.
What will be your main focuses at Licensing Expo this year?
TK: Knockout Licensing’s fantastic portfolio of period television properties (Downton Abbey, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Outlander and Poldark) will naturally be one of our main focuses, but we will also be talking to people about our many wonderful art & design properties (Finlayson, The Michelangelo Collection, Smithsonian Libraries’ Seed Catalog Collection), as well known brands we represent including Little House on the Prairie, Rita’s Water Ice, and BOO – The World’s Cutest Dog.
How important is Licensing Expo is your overall business? What benefits do you get from exhibiting there?
CP: Knockout Licensing attends dozens of different trade shows, expos, conferences and conventions throughout the year but Licensing Expo is still the single most important annual trade event for our industry and our agency.
It’s the one time and place we know we’ll see just about everyone in the business. In this day and age, we can always get in touch with clients, licensees, manufacturers, and retailers (and they can get in touch with us) by phone, email, Skype or other electronic means, but it’s still nice to come to Licensing Show and have a face-to-face meeting to renew connections and get business done.
How strong is the US licensing industry in general at the moment, do you think? Do you see any trends emerging?
TK: In art & design, we’ve identified Scandinavian Design – and perhaps Finnish Designers in particular – as an emerging trend. It’s one of the reasons we were so thrilled to add Finlayson and its vast archive of both classic and contemporary textile designs to our client portfolio.
Another noteworthy trend – for both our industry and society overall – is growing recognition of the large numbers and great enthusiasm of female fans for sci-fi, superheroes, fantasy, and action adventure in general. It’s something that – thanks to our work with Outlander and Outlander’s amazing fanbase – we’ve really come to appreciate as a great growth opportunity for manufacturers and retailers who specialise in those products and genres.
Working with Little House on the Prairie means we’re also keenly aware of the ‘prairie chic’ fashion trend that has been popping up more and more frequently on fashion runways from London to Toronto to New York and in various fashion magazines.
What’s the one thing that you are looking forward to most about Licensing Expo this year? What would you most like to achieve at the show the year?
CP: Our goal this year is the same as every year: we are looking forward to sitting down with people at Licensing Expo and seeing if we can do some business.
Knockout Licensing has a great portfolio with several proven propertie,s as well as a few new and exciting ones this year so the achievement that makes us happiest is being able to find the right companies to match to our various brands.
One of the interesting aspects of Licensing Show is that – although we have many appointments we are really looking forward to this year – it’s sometimes an unexpected drop-in that turns out to be the biggest opportunity of the show.