Search This Blog

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Kids Rule SK!

The Seoul Character Fair, which was held over five days at the end of July, was quite an eye-opener and, in many ways, made those of us who attended from Europe and USA think about the style of trade events that we have on offer.
The event brought together, quite literally, all sides of the licensing industry, from licensor or agent, to licensee, manufacturer and retailer. Nothing much new there – that’s what most western trade shows endeavour to achieve.

Where the Korean show differed from, say, Brand Licensing in London or other events held around the world is that whilst the first two days of the event were trade only, the last three days combined trade and public.

As somebody who has attended exhibitions in many parts of the world this year, and as the only licensing trade magazine in attendance, the thought of an event overrun by children initially seemed horrifying and, if the truth be known, largely irrelevant.

But, when the doors opened on the third day and thousands of children and their parents and others came into the show, it really was an eye-opener. Seeing which properties and booths attracted the most kids was invaluable. What better market research than the reaction of over 100,000 children and others?

It made us think. We’re so used to a formula for trade shows that we don’t really consider alternatives. But the Korean way was, after all, the logical way forwards. It involved, quite literally, every side of the industry – beginning with the property owner and ending with the all-important consumer.

The PR value for property owners in giving out samples and leaflets was immense. If a child fell for a character during the show, he was more likely to ask for that character after the show.

The more one thinks about it, the more logical a move it is. After all, why should trade shows, designed for the licensing industry, exclude the most important part of the foodchain – i.e. the consumer.

Granted if anyone were to suggest reorganising Licensing Expo or Brand Licensing to allow for a public day, there would be an outcry. Why? Because most of us can’t imagine a deluge of children coming into a trade event. To be honest, a couple of weeks ago, I would have felt the same. Now, though, I’m hooked! There’s nothing quite like the genuine reaction of children to tell you if you have a potential winner on your hands!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Kids will be kids...

Total Licensing attended the Licensing launch of Grandpa In My Pocket on the 22 July, and it was nice to see a live action children’s television programme that, while still giving an important message and embracing themes such as family, seems to be all about fun (whilst being highly appropriate, as 1.2m children in the UK are looked after by their grandparents).

The show looks at a happy nuclear family, which possibly indicates a trend back to traditions – for many years, and rightly so, some situational children’s television has looked at the diverse nature of the family in modern times, as many children live with step-parents, half-siblings, with single or same-sex parents. However, a ‘hark back’ to a traditional concept, where there is a boy, a (slightly wacky) mum and dad, and the loveable, titular Grandpa seems, at the same time, right, as around two thirds of children in the UK do still reside with a nuclear family.

So many children’s TV programmes and films include messages, be they of love, caring, or even deeper – the film Wall-E, for example, with its lonely robot cleaning up a desolate earth after the obese, constantly-stimulated inhabitants deserted it, is one of those films. It had a very deep and resounding theme, but you have to wonder – education is of course so important in entertainment, especially from a young age, but kids will be kids. Sometimes entertainment can come in just that form, without hammering home the message that we must be green, must look after our planet, must embrace diversity in all its forms, must be politically correct, etc. The closest some of us ever got to such messages in our childhood viewing was when Big Ears hopped into bed with Noddy, and ‘back in the day’ this caused a mild furore.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Goodbye heatwave?

As the heatwave in the UK appears to be dwindling away, it seems apt that the process of putting together everything for our Autumn/Fall issue of Total Licensing is well underway. The Brand Licensing preview, like the show, could prove to be bigger than ever this year due to numerous factors including the fact that some people did not exhibit at Vegas for various reasons, and that some people really feel that Europe is ‘where it’s at’ right now. We’re putting together a Sports Update, and the volume of contributions as always has amazed us. Sports is a huge sector of the licensing industry, and the end of summer really feels a perfect time to run such a feature – with events such as Wimbledon still fresh in people’s minds, and so many other sporting activities that take place in the nicer weather of the Northern hemisphere, such as the Ashes.
We’re also running a Pre-School feature, and as we all know, this part of the industry is enormous, and just so very varied.
Territory spotlights for the issue include a UK special, China and Hong Kong, Benelux and Japan – all very different places with fascinating stories and trends emerging.
On the subject of trends, a very interesting one that seems to be ever-growing is the worldwide obsession with online networking sites, blogging etc. It will be very interesting to see what merchandise and deals are struck in the next few months and years.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Worth more dead than alive?

Whether you’re in mourning for the ‘king of pop’ or not sure what all the fuss is about, there’s one thing you can be sure of – Michael Jackson’s estate is set to make a fortune after his untimely demise. Thriller has topped the charts decades after its first outing, items such as autographs and signed memorabilia are reportedly selling faster than ever, even dedicated website domains are up for grabs, and they’re not cheap.
I for one remember dancing badly around my bedroom using my hairbrush as a microphone to Billie Jean, but die hard fans bought and sold nearly 20,000+ items on eBay since Jackson’s death. Call me cynical, but people around the world are cashing in on what appears the be the biggest outlay of public grief since Princess Diana – R.I.P Michael mugs and t-shirts, glittery gloves (for one hand only of course) and special Fedora hats are cropping up everywhere. It just goes to show what power one single chap can have as a brand, and I predict, will have for many years to come.
This of course makes you wonder the sheer power of star quality – regardless of the star. Publisher and editor extraordinaire Francesca pointed out after a recent trip to Cuba that the image of Che Guevara is still prevalent – in fact it can be hard to turn the corner without seeing the iconic face symbolising for some, freedom and counterculture. It goes to show that you don’t just have to be a legendary actor or musician to have years of staying power. The original photograph was taken by Alberto Corda, and the current copyright status is still in a lengthy dispute. For a revolutionary activist to remain so alive in people’s minds and on their t-shirts is fairly rare – I haven’t bought my Karl Marx mug yet.
We covered some of the well-known figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash in the last issue of Total Licensing in our Legend and Celebrity spotlight. ( Naturally, many of the best-loved icons with enormous brand power are still alive and well; The Beckhams and Paris Hilton are two that spring to mind, but you have to wonder if we will still be seeing their faces on everyday items in fifty years time.