Brand Licensing Expo

Inside The Brand Licensing Industry

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CAA Hits Hard In The Licensing Arena

Guest Post by Erin Weinger

Any mention of CAA, the L.A.-based talent agency behemoth known for repping major movie stars including Brad Pitt, Natalie Portman and Bradley Cooper, conjures images of the silver screen (and the Vanity Fair Oscar Party, to which we would love an invite). But the agency has expanded their core business by creating a licensing division devoted to marrying clients with business opportunities that fit their personal brand. And to help get the job done, CAA exhibited at this year’s Licensing International Expo — the entertainment company’s first time officially exhibiting at the show.  

According to the company’s licensing booklet, which was on display at their celebrity photo-stamped booth during LX11, beauty and grooming are popular licensing wishes among their clientele, with Eva Mendes interested in fragrances, Dancing With The Stars judge Carrie Ann Inaba looking to lend her name to false eyelashes and NBA star Carmello Anthony setting his sights on a men’s grooming line.  

Fashion is also in the mix, with Chelsea Handler, Mariah Carey and Olivia Munn wanting to create clothing lines, toddler apparel and lingerie, respectively.  

Surprisingly, it isn’t just household names who are in CAA’s stable of licensable lifestyle talent. Quirky, Los Angeles-based perfumer Douglas Little, whose D.L. & Company line of luxury candles are a popular purchase at specialty retailers including Barneys and sell for $100 a pop, is also handled by the agency, and available to lend his name to jewelry, liquor and even Halloween décor. Chip & Pepper denim, popular contemporary boutique Steven Alan and NY Indie label Ruffian are also handled by the CAA division. All three brands have appeared on the pages of glossy style magazines including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and InStyle as being favored by many of the CAA’s talent division clients.  

The diversification is an interesting and smart strategy for CAA, as in the case of Jessica Simpson’s $1 billion lifestyle brand has proven, the revenue from licensed products can — and usually do — far outweigh even the heftiest movie star salary.  

CAA is notorious for signing only the heaviest hitting talent when it comes to their entertainment roster (in addition to the aforementioned names, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Aniston and Anne Hathaway are also clients), the agency’s Licensing Division eschews premium names in favor of premium business opportunities.

Case in point: Artist Thomas Kinkade, whose light-filled landscape paintings are a favorite at malls across Middle America and a bane to the existence of fine art collectors, is a CAA Licensing Division client. And for good reason, The Thomas Kinkade Company has seen $4 billion in revenue over the past 15 years, a substantial slice of business that CAA has handled since January, 2011. The company plans on expanding Kinkade’s presence internationally.   

And no, this doesn’t mean that you’re any more likely to get CAA super agent Kevin Huvane to watch your YouTube reel. Unless, perhaps, you are a multi-million dollar lifestyle brand in the making. Or you happen to bump into the right person at next year’s LX11. 

Filed under CAA lx11 licensing expo brand licensing

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SeaWorld At Licensing Expo

Guest Post by Erin Weinger

It isn’t standard fare for a tradeshow to host animals on their exhibition floor. Apparently the Licensing International Expo 2011 was anything but standard.  

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Orlando, FL-based company that hosts roughly 23 million visitors throughout 10 U.S. parks each year, turned their booth into a venerable wildlife menagerie, with penguins, and exotic birds among the creatures on display.  

Both LX11 exhibitors and attendees packed the company’s booth, and were treated to an up close and personal taste of SeaWorld’s brand at work; the company currently cares for nearly 60,000 animals, 18,000 of which are on the endangered species list.  

And that offers licensees quite an extensive library of four-legged, winged and finned talent to choose from when creating their SeaWorld-stamped merchandise mixes.  

On the eve of their second showing at Licensing International Expo, we spoke with John Walker, SeaWorld’s Senior Digital Marketing Manager, to find out how the company’s extensive, three year-old licensing program works — animals and all. 

LX11 Blog: SeaWorld seems to have an extremely diverse set of goals when it comes to the types of products and opportunities being sought from a licensing standpoint. Can you break down the future of your program?  

JW: Our goal is to continue to grow our global consumer products licensing program with corporate partners who share our core values of conservation and education and embrace the way we communicate those values through every product we take to market. SeaWorld works with the world’s leading designers, publishers, manufactures, and entertainment providers in order to produce products that are inspired by nature and represent our commitment to conservation. In the past six months we signed a publishing deal with Andrews McMeel Universal for books and calendars; Sleepy Giant: video games; UNCAS: jewelry; Creative Imaginations: Scrapbooking & Stickers; In Motion Entertainment: DVD’s & Music; and Fathead: Wall decals. 

LX11: Growing up, we recall one of our favorite bath toys came courtesy of SeaWorld (true story). What are some specific products in your licensing portfolio that modern-day children seem to be gravitating toward? 

JW: While they are all equally important, we are looking to focus establishing new product line focus areas such as apparel, educational products, publishing, gaming, and toys. We are also developing an entire new entity to focus on licensing our 50-year old library of video and imagery content. 

LX11: Your booth at Licensing International Expo 2011 was pretty awesome to say the least, and the penguins and birds you had on display seemed to be an incredibly successful draw. Is this the first time you’ve brought animals to the show?  

JW: This is our second time bringing our animals and our animal education ambassadors to the Licensing International Expo. However, this year we brought a much larger guest interaction element to our booth with live demonstrations featuring Julie Scardina, who appears for our company on major network talk shows with our animals. 

LX11:  How do you think having such an interactive booth strategy benefited the success of your show?  

JW: Our mission is to celebrate, connect, and care for the natural world we share, through the power of entertainment. So to remain true to our core, bringing our animals – arguably our most valued part of our SeaWorld brand – to the Licensing International Expo is a huge benefit. It’s one thing to just showcase them. For us, we then bring our animal education ambassadors and trainers alongside to share more information to bring our mission statement to life.  

LX11: Are you planning on bringing the animals back next year?  

JW: Yes, we are planning on bringing our animal ambassadors back to the show next year, in a bigger, more impactful way. So you’ll have to come by next year to see what’s new!   

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Licensing Expo: Interview with Ubisoft’s Greg Bartoletti at LX11

Jason Schreier:is an NYC-based freelance reporter/editor who writes for, the Onion News Network, and a number of other sites and publications. His work has also been featured in Time, CNN, and NPR. He graduated NYU in 2009 (go Violets!) and is a hopeless, yet passionate Jets/Nets fan. You can follow him on twitter@JasonSchreier

Q: First of all, could you tell me a bit about what you guys are doing here?

A: Sure, Ubisoft just finished E3. We’re the third-largest provider of video games in the world. So we had a very successful E3, and this is kind of the next step for us in the licensing arena. Ubisoft wants to be known as an entertainment company, not just a video game company so we’re branching out into all areas of licensing, film, and of course consumer products in terms of t-shirts, toys, accessories, figurines, publishing. So we’re looking forward to meeting new partners here this week. We have appointments scheduled on the half-hour for three days – we’re very excited.

Q: I know you guys have the Ghost Recon brand and Assassin’s Creed – could you tell me a bit about the other brands you have here?

A: Those are core games for us. Our entertainment and dance genres have been very good. Just Dance just reached 14 million units. We have Michael Jackson: The Experience attached to that, and Just Dance for Kids. And then in the shooter format, we’re very excited for next spring, we’ll be launching Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Those are key games for us.

Then there’s Raving Rabbids, kind of an iconic brand for us that does really well in Europe. And our Petz series, which is a caring, nurturing game geared primarily towards girls. We’ll be lasting the MMO, online version in June. At the show here we’re looking to meet with different partners in toy and plush, cause we have an electronic element that will be a part of that game as well.

Q: So for your big brands, like Ghost Recon and Assassin’s Creed, what kind of franchise directions are you looking toward?

A: We’ve got great partners in figurines, so they have toys that are the iconic characters from Assassin’s Creed – and then we have multiple versions, so the 4-inch figurine, then the bigger 7-inch figurine. We’ll also be speaking with a few people to work on a collectors’ series with more of a 12 to 15-inch, higher end. So there’s tremendous interest there, plus apparel, plus accessories, custom controllers, strategy keys.

Q: Great! So is there anything else you’d like to share?

A: We’ll see how today goes, we’re very busy! We also have our European counterparts here, from the French office, which is pretty good and they also have appointments. The Licensing Expo I think has done a good job of bringing in people from all around the world, so we brought our Australian office here as well as our Paris office.

Filed under LX11 Licensing Expo Game Licensing social gaming Interactive Gaming

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How to Develop and Manage a Successful Brand Licensing Agreement

Understanding the ins and outs of a licensing agreement is absolutely imperative for any brand considering venturing into the licensing playing field.  This seminar covered  why a brand or compnay would want to license, how to determine if your brand is ready for licensing, and how to make sure the license is successful.

Speakers included:

Brooke Bridges- Associate VP, Business Development and Marketing, Beanstalk
Scott Bannell- VP Corporate Brand management and Licensing, Stanley Black & Decker, Inc. Ron Feinbaum- Senior VP/ General Manager, Consumer Products, Scripps Networks- Home Category

The first question to ask yourself is Why license? What are the benefits?

When done well, licensing benefits all part of the equation.

  • For a Licensor-  it takes a brand and extends it into new categories, new distribution, the ability to reach a new consumer demographic, provides additional revenue streams.
  • For a Licensee-  it expands the product, helps reach new consumers, increases the revenue stream, helps differentiate from competitors.
  • For the Retailer-  it creates a point of difference, creates a destination, gives access to new consumers, offers variety in terms of the assortment strategies.
  • For the consumer- it is the consumer that is given another opportunity to establish a connection with a brand in a different, new emotional way.

With licensing you are connecting with a consumer in a new way.  It is an integral part of the marketing communications strategy; PR, social media, advertising, product placement. Licensing is arguably just as critical in the marketing  communication strategy as any of the areas listed here.

The reason for this is that, by definition,  licensing is the consumer choosing to live with and adapt to your brand in their lifestyle. It’s not talking at them but it is them self-selecting to engage with your brand in a new way.  There is nothing more authentic than that.  It is also the only part of the marketing communication mix that pays you back.

Coca Cola is a master of this.  All of their strategies- internet, packaging, sponsorship, public relations, product placement, direct mail, even down to their delivery trunks-  is integrated and strategic. And that extends to their licensing strategy, as well.   

There are several thing to consider when deciding whether your brand is ready for licensing:

  • Is your brand healthy?

  • Does it enjoy a high degree of awareness?

  • Does your brand have relevance beyond your core category?  You often find people who are in love with opportunity for their brand but they forget to have a look at the broader spectrum.

  • Do you have alignment between business and brand strategy?

  •  Are senior level executives behind the idea

  •  Are there adequate resources to support licensing?

Keys to Licensing success:      

  • High brand awareness: consumer trust
  • The right tools: comprehensive style guide, consumer research, category selection

  • Operational readiness: corporate commitment, proactive management

  • Careful license selection: extensive company research, clear criteria for partner selection

  • Vigilant program development and management: comprehensive training, well-designed products, stringent approval process, zero tolerance, ongoing program evaluation

10 Pitfalls to Avoid when Licensing:

  • Unrealistic goals for licensing program
  • Failure to prioritize among objectives
  • Lack of objectivity in assessing brand strengths
  • Lack of objectivity in assessing consumer permission
  • Lack of active involvement and commitment from brand
  • Failure to conduct licensee due diligence
  • Lack of contractual protections
  • Insufficient licensee education
  • Cursory product approval process
  • Inadequate systems for program administration and reporting

Filed under LX11 Licensing Expo