“The first thing I look for is passion”

With the License This judges confirmed, what will they be looking for from this year’s entrants?

“The first thing is passion – how much do they believe in the property they have created?” says Clare Piggott, director of licensing and merchandising at Larkshead Media, when asked what she’s looking for from an entrant into License This, the competition for new and emerging brands held every year by Brand Licensing Europe.

“Then I’m really interested to hear about their journey to BLE,” she continues. “I’m also looking at how commercially savvy/flexible they might be and interested to hear about any success to date and plans for the future.”

Clare – a three-time judge of the competition – is one of the Character & Animation judges this year. She shares the duties with Dan Grant (Danilo), Nikki Samuels (Sambro), Julia Redman (M&Co) and Steve Manners (CPLG).

This year also sees the competition split into two awards, with the other being Brand & Design. Judges for this are Stuart Cox (I Like Birds), Will Stewart (The Point.1888), Vicki Thomas (Vicki Thomas Associates), Sarah Lawrence (This is Iris) and Jehane Boden Spiers (Jehane).

Kelvyn Gardner, LIMA UK md, is once again chair, while Christina Schiavone from Wynne-Jones is a cross category judge.

Clare continues: “I’ll be looking for a property that can potentially build into a compelling TV proposition that will resonate well with retailers and consumers.

“Every finalist that gets up and presents their brand during the BLE final impresses me – it’s a big thing to talk about a brand that you have created and nurtured and, at the same time, engage with the License This audience. Plus, you have to answer questions on the spot which means thinking on your feet – that takes a lot of courage, particularly if you are not used to presenting.”

Hearing Charlotte Reed talking about her brand, May The Thoughts be With You, back in 2016, affected Clare so much that she ended up adding Charlotte – who went on to win the competition – to the Larkshead Media portfolio.

When asked what advice she would give to anyone considering entering this year, Clare says: “Give it a go! One of my daughter’s favourite quotes is ‘you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take’. You might find a mentor from the panel who will help you develop your property and you will feel a real sense of achievement for taking part.

“Each year, I have found the panel to be incredibly warm and encouraging. Everyone wants the finalists to do the very best they can. It’s a supportive Dragons’ Den type environment. So just try to enjoy the experience and listen to the advice you are given.”

This year’s two License This winners will receive a free exhibition stand at BLE 2019, one year’s LIMA membership, PR support and advice from a panel of industry experts. For the first time, all finalists will receive legal consultation from competition sponsor Wynne-Jones.

“License This is a proven propeller for entrepreneurs to launch themselves in to the licensing industry and a valuable tool to bring fresh, exciting talent into the licensing industry,” said BLE brand director Anna Knight.

“BLE would like to say a huge thank you to all of this year’s judges – we’re really excited about the competition’s new format and seeing all of the entrants on judging day next month.”

Pictured: Last year’s final with chair Kelvyn Gardner (third from left) and winner Flor Kohan from children’s animation brand Ioguis (with certificate).

Applicants can enter this year’s competition – which is sponsored by Wynne-Jones – for free online by clicking here. The deadline is 5pm on Friday September 14. The judges will then whittle down the shortlist on September 21 and choose the two winners at BLE in October.

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