Last week, it was the annual Licensing Expo in Las Vegas. The world’s largest tradeshow dedicated to brand, character, entertainment, fashion & art licensing. What is licensing you ask? Simply put, it’s a transfer of rights from a trademarked brand, name or patent owner to a licensee, who will then use a logo, character, image etc. for profit, under strict terms. For example, when you see Star Wars merchandise at a retailer like H&M, the Star Wars name and characters are under license from Lucasfilm ltd. the George Lucas owned company that has the rights to all things Star Wars.
All the major brands and entertainment companies you can think of were present for the 35th anniversary of the famous expo; Coca-Cola, Billboard & The Hollywood Reporter, Disney, Crayola, Grumpy Cat Limited, Dr.Seuss, The Jim Henson Company, the Frida Kahlo estate, Sony Music, Mattel, inc., & even John Wayne enterprises, amongst others.
The three key things that came out of the expo were an emphasis on technological brand placement, the resurgence of pop culture nostalgia and the important trend of brand collaborations.
It seems brands have caught on that our iPhone cases and headphones are prime real estate for product placement and the buying public has responded in earnest. People are ready to spend as much as 100$ on an iPhone case with their favourite brand’s logo on it. Get ready to see a lot of these on the market in the coming months/years, phone cases and headphones are currently the most in demand for licensing deals.
Pop culture has always been a big part of the licensing world but recently, we’re seeing a shift towards old Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe & Grace Kelly and Rock ‘n’ Roll superstars such as Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix as well as 1990s bands and old comic books. The licenses for these characters and entertainers are hotter than ever.
Collaborations are a fun new way of hitting two birds with one stone, marketing two brands at once. The Simpsons are collaborating with M.A.C. Cosmetics on a makeup line and Monopoly has teamed up with World of Warcraft for a special edition board game. When it comes to collaborations, the possibilities are endless and it seems that the more out there the two collaborating partners seems, the more interest it garners.
Pop culture has now fully integrated the worlds of fashion, accessories and even technology. When Grumpy Cat has a booth at a Licensing Expo, you know that we’re living in new and exciting times.
Are you a fan of licensing? Is your smart phone case a walking billboard for a major company?