Space race: How European Space Agency is building its licensing programme

Founded in 1975, the European Space Agency is dedicated to the peaceful exploration and use of space. As it approaches its 50th anniversary in two years’ time, Rocket Licensing is helping it to expand further into consumer products. finds out more.

“Space has captivated the human imagination for centuries and we are at the beginning of a new era of growth in space exploration and space science,” begins Charlie Donaldson, joint md at Rocket Licensing. “ESA, Europe’s Space Agency, is at the forefront of this expansion and can deliver access to the exciting world of space exploration with a variety of exclusive assets and expertise.

“That in itself is a major licensing opportunity. However, in two years’ time it will be celebrating its 50th anniversary – in the lead-up to which you can expect a lot of newsworthy and exciting space-based events that will raise its profile higher than ever.

Rocket Licensing has the task of moving ESA into consumer products, with the agency initially targeting categories including science kits and experiential, as well as apparel, toys, games, puzzles, paper products, stationery and publishing. “There is a great market for kids’ ranges of all kinds with a cool science angle and we have beautiful, inspiring images which will work across lots of product for older fans, such as homewares and stationery,” says Charlie.

Existing deals include a Playmobil Mars exploration kit; LEGO Space Shuttle and Hubble Space Telescope set; models of Ariane from ESTES; plus Lobster and Lemonade t-shirts and a collection from Art Photo Limited showing the beauty and strangeness of Earth from hundreds of kilometres above its surface. “There’s even a Barbie version of Samantha Cristoforetti, an ESA astronaut who holds the record for the longest uninterrupted spaceflight by a European astronaut: 199 days and 16 hours,” Charlie adds.

Brand Licensing Europe will see Rocket highlighting a new style guide and a 2024 trend guide. Charlie explains: “Both will support a strong campaign that not only aims to raise awareness of a unique brand, with products that can be based on some of the most exciting adventures and scientific discoveries of our lifetime, but to ensure people know about the coming 50th anniversary and associated partnership opportunities.”

Rocket will be looking to deliver ESA’s ambition – to enthuse and inspire everyone with the excitement of space exploration and space science – through the consumer products, and Charlie is confident of the potential in the brand.

He offers: “The ESA brand’s associations have a powerful grip on the imagination of anyone, of any age, who has ever pondered the secrets and marvels of our universe – and let’s be honest: that’s most of us.

“In both the short and long-term we aim to unlock the licensing potential of humankind’s great adventure in space – and there’s a lot of licensing potential, supported by some amazing assets in the new guides,” Charlie concludes. “What other brand has design assets that include official mission patches, graphics of the Space Station, the Mars Rover and Ariane launchers, and astonishing images of Earth, Mars and far-off nebulas?”

This feature originally appeared in the autumn 2023 edition of Licensing Source Book. To read the full publication, click on this link.

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