Day one of the Licensing Expo passed by all too quickly. I started the day by taking in the keynote speech I referred to in yesterday’s Blog, where I was reminded just how much I dislike the use of the word ‘phygital.’ I’m all for the idea of language adapting and evolving, but that just strikes me as one word that didn’t need to enter our vocabulary. If anyone else hears a buzzword or phrase they have an aversion to over the course of the week, do feel free to share it.
The show felt brisk, especially in the morning, before presentations by DreamWorks and Nickelodeon took a large number of people off the show floor. I’m not sure whether that is a trend I feel entirely comfortable with, but I guess there were so many different presentations on Monday – before the show opened – that perhaps an overspill into the first day of the exhibition was unavoidable. I always find it fascinating to listen to feedback from people who attend a large number of these presentations: let’s just say that I suspect some of the licensors would be shocked to hear how scathing some of the comments can be. These range from mild amusement at technology problems and generally ramshackle proceedings to a deep dislike of the kind of corporate jargon that certain licensing companies seem to embrace all too willingly. One licensor, who it was suggested “should have known better”, was even described as having “killed their presentation with corporate speak” by a licensee I was talking to earlier. I’ve been relatively lucky in that the few licensors’ events I attended have managed to avoid these pitfalls to deliver engaging presentations. Despite the relatively chaotic queues to get in, DreamWorks put on what many people have described as the most impressive event, which featured extensive footage of the new Trolls movie and was topped off by a personal appearance by Justin Timberlake, who voices one of the lead characters and is responsible for the film’s music score. Inevitably he received a rapturous welcome, especially from the ladies present (judging by the pitch of the screams which accompanied his initial appearance on stage). He even took a selfie, using the audience as a backdrop – with the added twist that we were all encouraged to put on troll wigs for the picture (I didn’t see many people complaining to be fair). I’m guessing this shot may go viral in the coming days – if so, that’s me about 40 rows back and 18 seats to the left of Justin’s shoulder. Jeffrey Katzenberg, who was also there in the flesh, had earlier described Trolls as the company’s most ambitious licensing programme to date, and reaction from people afterwards suggests that it is on course to be a big success.
The main piece of gossip I’ve picked up so far is the news that Hannah Mungo will be leaving EOne in late September to join Universal as licensing director. No official word yet on her replacement, but there are a few names floating around, which may or may not be accurate.
The annual Lima International Licensing Awards took place last night: unsurprisingly Star Wars enjoyed a good night, picking up four separate awards. There were also wins for Shopkins (character / toy brand) and Peppa Pig (animated entertainment), while Hot Topic won retail licensing programme of the year for its work with Doctor Who, proving the brand definitely has traction outside of the UK market. Intriguingly, the health and beauty aids award was won by the Motörhead official pleasure collection, although as I wasn’t at the event, I can’t shed any light on what that range actually consists of. All I can say is the mind boggles, and I genuinely have no idea what on earth Lemmy would have made of it all.