There's Just No Telling...

According to NPD Group, 23 percent of toy sales last year (that's €2.6 billion) in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy were license driven. And all eyes this summer are on Cars 2, particularly in mainland Europe. Cars earned €147 million in the same five countries in 2008, and NPD's Frederique Tutt suggests that if Cars 2 delivers as promised, it could achieve €200 million in sales this year and snatch the crown for best selling licensed toy from 2010's winner, Hello Kitty.

That Hello Kitty was the top selling toy license in Europe in 2010 is sobering. After all there's no hit TV series or film to support it, no "spike" in marketing activity or any related major event. It has year-round appeal. Striving for consistent appeal is a growing trend and one we are likely to hear more of at Brand Licensing Europe in October.

Are retailers tiring of movie franchises? No, of course not, especially when they continue to deliver great sales figures. But retailers are choosing more carefully. Film licensing has changed irrevocably now that there are dozens of "blockbusters" released each summer. A gradual change in expectation is necessary as film studios can no longer assume that retailers will want to back a film license. The caution and care taken by retailers over brands is clear in our coverage of The FA awarding its rights to BBC Worldwide in this issue. BBC Worldwide's Neil Ross Russell says that we can no longer expect any favors from retail. What he means is that if you want a retailer to do the right thing for your brand, then you have to work smarter with them, create more audience segmentation, understand the consumer in more depth and be more imaginative. He calls it working "toe-to-toe" with retailers and suggests that if the licensing industry doesn't make an effort to work in this way then it should be resigned to operating in the margins of the retail landscape.

Licensors and licensees are also charging ahead for Brand Licensing Europe, Oct. 18-20 at The Grand Hall Olympia in London.

The expo is very pleased to announce the judging panel for the 2011 License This! challenge at Brand Licensing Europe. Andrew Kerr of Aoh!k Commercial, previously of Classic Media and Ragdoll, is its chair. Joining him on the panel are Oliver Dyer, managing director, Skew Studio; Eric Huang, publishing director, media and entertainment, Penguin Group; and Patricia de Wilde, licensing director, Marathon Media and president of F2D2. It's a formidable panel that combines expert advice and top experience in licensing. Four short-listed concepts will be pitched to the panelists, who will ask questions and offer their critique before choosing a winner. Last year's event was very exciting and the winner, Animaru, returns to the show floor to exhibit this year.

Another highlight is the Licensing Academy, which will include trademark attorney Christian Fortmann giving a detailed case study of Polo Ralph Lauren and how it has worked to protect the brand in the European market place over the last 10 years.

Russia will come alive in the hands of experts who really know and understand the region and can offer their insight into entering the market with a licensed property.

And the heady world of licensed promotions features this year–heady because a perfect collaboration between two brands is sometimes a once in a lifetime opportunity that can score off the scale in terms of raising brand awareness. Five experts will join to explain how to create opportunity and then make the most of it.

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