Kids Licensing Forum

Posted by Kelvyn Gardner on March 25, 2010

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Just back from a hastily re-arranged trip to Bologna. Hastily re-arranged courtesy of the British Airways cabin-crew strike, but rearranged in different ways, too. I’ve been a regular visitor to Bologna in early spring since 1981, to the long-standing Children’s Book Fair. Publishing is a core activity for licensing, of course, and anyone in children’s printed works has annually congregated at the Book Fair for many years now. In fact, the book fair itself could have been described as ‘Italy’s licensing fair’ due to the number of agents present, not just domestic but internationally, too.

For the last few years LIMA has been supporting a more focussed approach to licensing in Bologna at the desire of the fair’s organisers. Starting with the launch of the International TV and Media Rights Centre in 2007, adding a new one-day conference in 2008, and now breaking out into a fully-fledged three-day exhibition and conference called the Kids Licensing Forum, running alongside the book fair itself in its own light and airy pavilion in the Bologna Fiera complex. It was a pleasant space in which to engage in licensing discussion, with around thirty exhibitors, a programme of educational seminars , plus screenings and presentations covering upcoming properties. If the organiser’s strap-line of ‘The European Children’s Licensing Event’ was perhaps a bit of a stretch given the preponderance of Italian content, it’s not at all a criticism to accept this. Brand Licensing Europe, in London, took six or seven years to build a truly international base, and I was recently in company discussing the founding days of the USA’s International Licensing Expo: today a huge, multi-national event but in its origins a set of tressle tables and a few ashtrays ( smoking permitted in the 1980s ). Indeed, Italy needs a focussed event to suit a local licensing industry which is changing more today than it has in years – and I signed my first licensing deal there twenty-six years ago. LIMA also announced our partnership with Licensing Italia for the mutual promotion of licensing in the country which has brought so many famous brands to the world. A well thought-out and classy debut for the ‘KLF’ then, and I look forward to watching it grow.

Some of you may wonder how I passed the dull evenings outside the KLF? Sadly, along with all the other visitors, publisher or licensing executive, I was condemned to eat local food and drink local wine, the produce of Emilia Romagna which some claim to be the top culinary region of Italy. I barely noticed, of course, accepting that subsistence requires a ‘when in Rome’ approach, and thus reluctantly giving up on good old British fish and chips, black pudding and draught bitter beer and accepting a variety of antipasti,minestre and primi piatti washed down with Sangiovese. It’s a tough gig but someone has to do it. Roll on 2011!