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LIFE story: How the iconic picture collection is building in licensing

With a successful CP programme in numerous territories, finds out how LIFE is looking to further expand in the UK and Ireland, welcoming a new agency, teaming with fresh licensees and eyeing new opportunities.

You’re probably already familiar with a number of the images in the LIFE Picture Collection – it has over seven million licensable images in its portfolio, meaning it is a source of almost endless inspiration for partners.

This incredible brand recognition and strong emotional connection to its images is something which LIFE is looking to leverage to further develop its existing merchandising business.

“LIFE has been licensed for merchandise for more than 15 years and we are expanding the programme into new territories and products every month,” Tom Rowland, president of LIFE, explains. “As we focus on a younger audience, we will be able to explore new opportunities and see our licensing programme for LIFE grow stronger. We have been very successful in Korea, Japan, and Europe. We’ve had the opportunity to produce a wide range of products including craft beer, disposable cameras, phone accessories, luggage, apparel and even LIFE branded pop-up shops. We are proud to have incredible agents all over the world truly dedicated to their work to assist us with these new and exciting ventures.”

Tom Rowland, president, LIFE.
Tom Rowland, president, LIFE.

In the UK and Ireland, Licensing Link Europe is now on board to help take LIFE to the next level. Tom comments: “We believe their vision for LIFE in the market aligns with ours and is centred around strategic partnerships and innovative programming. We also felt that their existing portfolio of historical, artistic and lifestyle brands nicely complements the LIFE brand.”

So, what makes the LIFE image portfolio timeless? Tom offers: “The LIFE Picture Collection is an unprecedented cultural asset with millions of untold stories and unseen images from historical figures and iconic moments in our history. While the images document specific moments in history, the themes our images convey including community, relationships, nature and fashion are universal and will be relevant to consumers long into the future.”

Life2As well as its variety of themes continuing to strongly resonate with today’s consumer, Tom says that LIFE has employed a number of tools which licensees can utilise to identify images that match the themes they seek.

“For instance, searching our collection on Shutterstock and Google Arts and Culture empowers licensees to locate images by keyword, time period and photographer,” he says. “Licensees can also take advantage of our newly redesigned style guide to leverage the patterns, layouts and designs that have been expertly curated by graphic design experts and artists. Finally, our staff have spent years studying the magazine, working with former photographers, and reading caption notes and are well versed to assist licensees curate a stellar new collection.”

The LIFE picture collection is an "unprecedented cultural asset" says Tom.
The LIFE picture collection is an “unprecedented cultural asset” says Tom.

LIFE has already enjoyed good success in both softlines and hardlines. Typically, the most successful products can be seen within apparel, stationery, linens and everyday lifestyle products. However, Tom says that it is generally looking for innovative opportunities “as long as they remain tethered to LIFE’s core identity focused on showing the world through iconic photography”.

One of the latest partnerships is with Cotton Division for a variety of LIFE-branded apparel and bags in retailers throughout France. There are also “a number of exciting opportunities in the pipeline” teases Tom.

“As we look towards LIFE’s future, we seek to modernise the brand and continue connecting with younger consumers,” Tom continues. “Through our UK efforts, we hope to implement new programmes that will help us reach untapped consumers. By working quickly, remaining flexible and adhering to LIFE’s core identity, we hope to modernise this iconic 20th Century juggernaut and solidify its place in the 21st Century.”

Years have been spent studying the magazine, so the team are well versed to assist licensees.
Years have been spent studying the magazine, so the team are well versed to assist licensees.

LIFE: Need to know

The LIFE Picture Collection is the visual chronicle of the 20th Century and the most prestigious private photographic archive in the US.

The collection has over seven million licensable images in its portfolio covering Hollywood, history, innovations in photography, sports, science, technology, fashion and music. Some of the most recognised images include the VJ Day Times Square kiss and the Launch of Apollo 11. In addition, it has a host of celebrity images featuring Marilyn Monroe, Steve McQueen, Martin Luther King Jr., and John F. Kennedy.

It also has more than ten million followers across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, continuing to engage existing and new audiences with its content.

This feature originally appeared in the autumn 2022 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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