festival of licensing

As retail continues to be transformed by evolving consumer demands, pandemic-induced lockdowns remain a challenge for retailers to overcome. Retailers are managing record-setting e-commerce growth while also grappling with driving in-store traffic as doors reopen.

Amid these challenges, retailers would benefit from leveraging licensed brands as a way to stand out and increase sales, noted organizers of the Festival of Licensing — a virtual replacement for Brand Licensing Europe, Licensing Expo and Licensing Leadership Summit.

The event offers retailers access to more than 500 renowned brands and IPs as well as a retail program specifically designed for buyers needing to leverage licensing opportunities, spot key trends and decide on the best retail strategies for the next six to 12 months.

“Festival of Licensing is a never-before-seen celebration of the business of brand licensing, in partnership with industry trade association Licensing International,” organizers said, adding that the event takes place over four weeks “with each week dedicated to a global region from Oct. 6 to 29, the all-virtual event serves as a large-scale digital gathering that aims to bring together the global licensing industry to connect, learn, strike deals and do business on an international stage.”

The event includes live and on-demand content that will span keynotes, educational sessions, numerous networking opportunities and even entertainment. Registration is now open.

Here, WWD speaks with Anna Knight, vice president of the Global Licensing Group, who shares details on what attendees can expect, session recommendations, and how to prepare for the plentiful networking opportunities that may lead to their next big deal, all in a virtual environment.

WWD: How did Festival of Licensing come to be? Why was it important to organize the event regionally?

Anna Knight: Following the success of the Global Licensing Group’s first all-digital event, Licensing Week Virtual, there was a clear need for further education in order to adapt and emerge on the other side of the current crisis stronger than before. A point of feedback we received from our first virtual event that we have learned from was generating business opportunities proved difficult for attendees spanning time zones. Hence why we broke the monthlong event into four distinct regions, namely, Europe, Asia, North America and Latin America, enabling exhibiting brands to make connections in specialized markets.

WWD: Who should attend Festival of Licensing? What can attendees expect?

A.K.: Festival of Licensing is for everyone. We’re proud to feature 100-plus hours of content that is for all levels of brand licensing experience. Whether you’re an indie brand looking to enter brand licensing, or a c-level executive interested in direction for a specific issue, we have the solution at Festival of Licensing. The quality and depth of speakers and timely educational content is unlike anything we’ve produced before featuring speakers from Alibaba, Smiley, Inditex, ABG, Diageo, Crunchyroll, Bandai Namco, Hasbro, Jazwares, Sanrio, among others that we have yet to announce as we approach completion of the conference agenda. Also note that these sessions will also be available on-demand for four weeks after the event wraps.

We have plenty of educational sessions both live and on-demand that spotlight popular industry topics from video games to art, and even feature a dedicated Retail Program where attendees can learn all about licensing and how it can help from very basics to product category growth from retail and licensing expert Julia Redman in Buyers Eye. I highly recommend blocking time on your calendar for the live keynotes headlining each region from noted companies.

But what differentiates Festival of Licensing from our previous events is that it truly is our most inclusive and comprehensive event to-date. Not only do we feature a robust virtual expo hall composed of an impressive exhibitor lineup but there are ample opportunities for our attendees and brands to have fun and network amongst one other while on the platform.

WWD: What networking opportunities will there be?

A.K.: Brand licensing is built on opportunities to meet and strike business deals. The best way to go about this is to take advantage of the Festival Matchmaking Service where attendees can schedule pre-planned online video meetings and impromptu exhibitor booth drop-ins. Do ensure your profile is filled out completely in advance of event commencement, you never know who may reach out for that next licensing deal.

ViacomCBS Consumer Products has generously provided fun and engaging content for the “Community & Wellbeing” program for attendees to keep active while working from home from their most popular properties including a retro MTV workout, Nick Jr. active session and Bikini Bottom Yoga with SpongeBob.

We also recently announced the Hasbro “Happy Hours” program where attendees can relax and network in an informal environment listening to an exclusive performance from Mondo Cozmo and playing an online version of Trivia Pursuit together after a full day of meetings and education. This is the event to keep connected with the industry in a professional and engaging way. 

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