Welcome to the newly-rebranded Licensing Week (TM…don’t forget the all-important TM – presumably just in case there is anyone out there thinking of starting a rival licensing week…).
In truth, there has been no appreciable difference to the routine established in recent years; people drift into Las Vegas across the weekend, some even arrange a few informal meetings (Sunday pool meetings are becoming ‘a thing’). Proceedings ramp up several notches on the Monday, when a growing number of licensing companies put on presentations; indeed, there are so many now that they start at 9.00 rather than midday, presumably to avoid too many clashes.
The proliferation of presentations has led to the challenge of standing out. Talking to licensees and retailers, Universal was praised for its slick event, Transformers was the star of Hasbro’s show, while Disney drew plaudits for recognising that brevity is the sole of wit (not a strategy it has hitherto favoured). Cartoon Network adopted a bold new approach, eschewing the time-honoured blueprint of delivering detailed information on its portfolio in favour of treating us all to a rather entertaining magic show. If the idea was to showcase the company’s maverick spirit, it certainly came over loud and clear. Nevertheless, there were a few bewildered licensees afterwards.
As ever, some of the presentations err on the side of being a little on the American side for British tastes. UK licensees have long played ‘BS Bingo’ during presentations; someone suggested that the lack of use of the word zeitgeist this year may mean that American companies have finally cottoned on to this. Inevitably, though, as certain corporate jargon falls out of favour, new buzzwords emerge; early contenders for this week’s Phrase of Shame include Wall of Content and Total Content Consumption, although I am sure other nominations will soon be forthcoming. It’s not just linguistic faux pas which occasionally touch a nerve; I don’t doubt for a minute that it’s important to transmit enthusiasm and passion to the crowd, but high fiving on stage really doesn’t go down well with Brits. To paraphrase the Nike slogan, Just Stop It!
Gossip-wise it has been relatively quiet, save for the confirmation of a major cull at the UK 20th Century Fox licensing division, where the senior team has been all but dismantled. It’s a shame for the people concerned (and hopefully they will all find new challenges soon), but in fairness few licensees seem surprised, given Fox’s ongoing lack of success in the licensing field.
After a day of presentations, the show itself opened yesterday. Following Disney’s disappearance from the show floor to a subterranean meeting room a few years ago, this year sees Hasbro follow the same path (allegedly saving a seven figure sum in the process). With DreamWorks now fully assimilated into the Universal booth, a number of big stands have been lost, while the show has moved forward almost a month in the calendar. However, visitor numbers don’t appear to have been affected by either development; the crush at opening time was as lively as ever.
There has been positive feedback to the new dates, with several people suggesting that post-show follow up may prove to be quicker than in previous years, when holiday season followed shortly after the show, breaking the momentum. But whether you’re in favour of the new dates or not makes little difference; what we have now is how the show will set up for the foreseeable future. Contrary to rumours circulating in the bars, I’m reliably informed that Licensing Expo is definitely NOT moving to Miami: it will be back in Vegas during the same week (22nd – 24th May) next year.
The Blog will be back on Friday, with more news from around the show.