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The trends & new brands to watch from BLE 2018

Carol Feeley from Beacon Creative highlights her top spots from last week’s showcase.

Celebrating 20 years, Brand Licensing Europe opened its doors to showcase over 2,500 properties from hundreds of exhibitors last week.

Here, Beacon Creative has collated its favourite stands, top picks across apparel, homeware and plush, best experiences and newest properties.



Showcasing its latest properties (Abominable) as well as cult classics, Universal created its annual queue for freebies with bespoke screen printed tote bags. The showroom featured Jurassic World homeware, Trolls apparel and a wall of beautifully designed postcards showcasing its range of classic film properties.



The Moomin stand was the talk of the show, displaying its latest product under a cutout canopy which cast light and Moomin silhouettes all across the stand. The huge rotating circular table showcased homeware and accessories. A simple but effective way of catching the attention of passers-by.



Literally impossible to miss, Nickelodeon’s stand successfully did the seemingly impossible – showcase multi-property characters and product at the show’s most populated stand. The main focus this year was the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the latest incarnation of the 30-year-old property. There’s a chance we might be biased, but we think its the best version of the Turtles to date.

Nickelodeon also announced its commitment to sustainable clothing, hopefully leading the way for others in the industry. Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products will partner with Trashcode to make products out of plastic bottles, the first being a range of SpongeBob t-shirts.


The Smiley Company

One of the best-designed stands at the show, displaying new product, several accessible printed portfolios and the latest range for Rubik’s.



Discovery unveiled its new stand with an innovative approach using wire walls. It was also great to see the latest sportswear range for Eurosport.


Top Picks


Showcasing its diverse portfolio, Hasbro Gaming unveiled its latest range of homeware inspired by classic games such as Battleships, Monopoly and Operation. We loved the My Little Pony display of apparel and accessories complete with unicorn macaroons. It was exciting to see a new clothing range for Bumblebee; we’re looking forward to the release of the movie later this year.


What made us laugh…

We’re fortunate enough to work in a really fun industry, so it’s great when we see brands having fun with their product and taking risks. Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Kid Robot kept us entertained at the show with some products well worthy of a LOL. We were big fans of Nickelodeon’s Slime Sauce, Kidrobot x Sanrio Hello Kitty fries plush and the Rick and Morty ‘butt’ mug.


Apparel and accessories

The 1930s-inspired video game Cuphead featured on King’s stand with a small selection of accessories. Warner Brothers wowed us with its Looney Tunes range; we were particularly fond of the faux fur Bugs Bunny coat.


Top Experiences


Pantone attracted the crowds with its experiential stand which involved receiving your own custom Pantone palette based on your appearance. Using a Polaroid, the artist mixed watercolours to match the tones in the image.


Slime Zone

It wouldn’t be BLE without some sort of Viacom photobooth! Nickelodeon’s slime booth created an animated gif of virtual sliming (although we also enjoyed the real-life sliming, too).


Warner Bros

We took a trip to the Central Perk and Hogwarts courtesy of Warner Bros. Great to see some new Friends products including bedding and accessories. We’ll be featuring ‘Freinds Fest’ in our next report which explores how brands are responding to fans.


Sanrio Plush Wall

Celebrating her 45th anniversary, Hello Kitty provided the perfect selfie backdrop – a great idea from Sanrio. We were also interested to hear about Hello Kitty’s new YouTube channel, which sees her in 3D for the first time.


New Properties

Baby Riki

New to the UK marke, Licensing Link Europe showcased a new range of Baby Riki plush. The five-minute animated musical edutainment series has more than one billion views generated on Chinese digital platforms so we’re expecting big things in the UK. You can find out about our involvement with BabyRiki later in the year.



Zodiak dedicated its entire stand to new preschool property Lilybuds. The new animation uses CGI with 2D textures to bring the tiny characters and their magical world to life. We were lucky enough to work with Zodiak developing the new style guide for Lilybuds and you can find out more later this year.


Finally, we’re excited to hear about the latest project from Uniqlo. Following on from the success of its competition with Nintendo, it has announced its latest competition with Pokémon.

The global contest invites anyone to design a t-shirt which is judged by The Pokémon Company president. First prize is $10,000 as well as their design sold in Uniqlo spring/summer next year.

Carol Feeley is creative manager at Beacon Creative – an independent brand design consultancy, working with worldwide brands on a daily basis, which believes that at the heart of every good brand communication is a great idea. She can be contacted on 0191 478 4411 or by clicking here.

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