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Brand Licensing – the buzz, impressed Americans and bloody drummers…It’s the Friday blog!

Published on: 19th October 2012

This week has been dominated by the Brand Licensing show; three of the most exhausting and intense days in my annual calendar, with so much to pack in. I feel this year’s show very much lived up to expectations, and in many respects surpassed them. The general consensus was that it was busier than last year, and most people felt there were more retailers and international visitors in attendance. And the ‘buzz’ – that unofficial , intangible, elusive measure of success of any trade show – was most definitely in evidence from start to finish (and I promise that’s not just a result of too many espressos, which replaced food as my ‘fuel’ for the show’s duration).

Like most people, I arrived with a full-to-bursting schedule which, naturally, was physically impossible to keep to, so I quickly adopted the British Rail mantra that if I was only 10 minutes late for an appointment, it counted as being on time.

As you would expect, there was a truly staggering variety of properties on view, and every conceivable size of licensing company represented, from the industry’s big hitters to brand new companies trying to get a foothold in the market. Many people remarked that it was great to see Disney returning to the show floor with a really strong presence. By contrast, several people expressed their surprise at finding this year’s most successful property – Moshi Monsters – in a small cupboard at the back of the hall (but I’m sure Mind Candy has its reasons – maybe they decided the big Wednesday night party was the way to go in terms of investment).

I don’t have anywhere near enough room to list all the interesting things we saw at the show, but we’ll include a round-up in the next issue of Toy World. There will also be a comprehensive feature on hot properties for 2013 in our January Toy Fair edition, so you’ll find plenty of ongoing coverage of what’s hot in the licensing world in Toy World over the coming months.

There were the inevitable trade show niggles, of course: carnage at the entrance hall on the first morning when three of the four badge printing machines weren’t working; ridiculously long cloakroom queues at both ends of the day and sandwich prices which would make a motorway service station blush. And don’t get me started on those irritating drummers who kept interrupting meetings and conversations throughout the hall with their preposterous racket – the company responsible (Twentieth Century Fox, I believe) should be forced to issue an apology and buy everyone who was there a very large drink for being such a nuisance (there really is such a thing as bad publicity, trust me). But overall, BLE 2012 was a triumph. One American visitor told me she had expected – and I quote – a “rinky dink little show”, but was most impressed to find it compared more than favourably with the Vegas event. ‘Rinky dink’ it certainly isn’t.

We also concluded an exciting piece of business ourselves at the show; I won’t reveal all until contracts are officially signed, but suffice to say that we can’t wait to announce what will certainly be a very significant addition to Toy World in the very near future. Watch this space….

And finally, I was intrigued to find out at BLE that industry stalwart Clive Jones has found himself a new job as a stand-in for Something Special presenter Mr Tumble – if you don’t believe me, here’s the proof: