BLE 2014: Be moved, be excited; this is an industry that’s going places

Posted by Kelvyn Gardner on October 14, 2014

LIMA UK MD Kelvyn Gardner gives his opinion on this year’s Brand Licensing Europe
Published in Licensing.Biz – October 13, 2014

It’s always the worst part of a trade show, packing your bags and checking out of your hotel before the final day’s action has played out, in this case rendering yourself temporarily homeless for the final seven hours of Brand Licensing Europe 2014.

The final seven hours. Seven hours. There’s the thing: at BLE you don’t feel homeless, because you don’t have time to think about it. It’s the last day and you WILL be working for seven hours.

I’ve mentioned before the rare phenomenon of BLE, a show that kicks off at 8.45am on Tuesday and genuinely doesn’t blow the final whistle until 4pm and not a second before on Thursday. At the LIMA booth we had folk turning up at 3pm looking for last-minute meetings, or at least a few words of advice, that we tried to cram in among our already thorough commitments.

All around me it was the same. Busy floors, busy stands, busy corridors. And what a show it was. There’s always energy, but this year it was as if every sector of licensing was crying out ‘We’re the new kids on the block, join us!’

Movies. Who licences movies anymore? Too risky, too short lived. Yeah? Well we had Minions and Jurassic World and Frozen and Marvel Superheroes and Goosebumps and Star Wars cutting a swathe. These are movies, but they are also brands. Warner showed us just where Batman v Superman is going, to be joined by many more DC Comics characters on the big screen.

Plus there’s TV, rubbing shoulders with the likes of The Simpsons at one end of the Fox portfolio, The Strain at the other. Licensing for grown-ups, who’d have thought it? Only we did, we many foot soldiers in the licensing army, with Downton Abbey, Great British Bake Off and Game of Thrones stirring the pot.

I’ve been a sceptic as far as the new Thunderbirds is concerned, but there’s ITV puffing out its chest and proudly revealing what’s in store with the Traceys (behind closed doors a bit, but lots open too). Someone nicked my Thunderbird 3 tote bag from the LIMA stand – always a good sign, being robbed. Peppa Pig posed, Thomas chugged, Paddington positively pulsed, the somewhat upper-crust bear taking a bow in his own movie, and what a great movie it looks to be. Another British hero to conquer the world – pass the marmalade, Alice.

The Licensing.biz Power List 2014 was launched – all on this wave of enthusiasm, beer was drunk or wine was sipped as we congratulated ourselves on having Minecraft rights, or commiserated that we had not, or LEGO, or Orla Kiely or Tour de France: who could have imagined that? On your bike, ladies and gents, to find the next great sports brand for licensing.

Back in the show, after the Mind Candy party, after the LIMA party, after the Allsorts Media party, Table Dennis was played, the Brand and Lifestyle Zone buzzed and shone blingily. Lamborghinis inside, drift race cars outside, courtesy of Extreme Sports and vying for attention with Elvis’s pink Cadillac. Full houses at the Licensing Academy, running out of business cards for all the folk who want a copy of my presentation: fresh blood folks, grist to the ever-growing licensing mill.

Are you excited? Are you moved? Are you pleased to part of this scene? Be moved, be excited, this is an industry that’s going places, and Brand Licensing Europe is now one of the truly great staging posts on licensing’s journey into the future.