New Licensing Lounge at Spring Fair provides valuable industry focus
The LIMA UK team is just back from a week at Spring Fair at the NEC, the UK’s largest consumer goods trade fair. This is an event that we always attend as visitors. For 2012, a new Licensing Lounge was arranged for the first time, sponsored by several prominent LIMA UK members including BBC and Nickelodeon. LIMA was invited to make the Lounge our ‘home’ for the week which we viewed as a great opportunity to provide licensing information to visitors. There has always been much evidence of licensing in action at Spring air, but the Lounge provided for the first time a focal point: those seeking licensing information of a general nature, or looking to find specific licensed products, had a location to visit where they could be sure to get a steer towards their goals. As we took our places in the Lounge on the first day, we genuinely could not anticipate the type of visitors we would receive nor what they would be looking for. By the time we got to the end of the week, some clear themes had shone through.
Questions put to us were many and varied. Some businesses simply wanted to ask what licensing was. Others had taken first steps and needed pointers as to how to proceed. Yet more were helped to identify licensors and agents for properties in which they had an interest. Overwhelmingly, though, we met businesses large and small who (1) were almost ‘scared’ of licensing, and had no clue how to get into the industry and (2) had formed the impression that licensing was prohibitively expensive. Several mentioned ‘million pound fees’ that they had heard somewhere were the requirement to acquire rights. Talking to these people it was evident that whatever work LIMA has done so far to spread understanding of licensing as a business tool, it has not been anywhere near enough. We cannot afford to lose opportunities simply because companies don’t know where to start. To find businesses believing that million-dollar tickets were necessary to ‘come to the licensing ball’ is also deeply disappointing. UK plc is clearly not going to come and batter down the door of the licensing industry, so we are going to have to continue to reach out to them and reveal the golden opportunity that licensing can provide, for licensees and brand owners alike. In the end, I took inspiration from this knowledge vacuum. Yes, the onus is on LIMA and our industry colleagues to get out the truth about licensing, but just how big our opportunity is now becomes abundantly clear. We’ll take this inspiration into our work for 2012 and beyond.