It pays to be open minded

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes on why it is difficult to pigeonhole things in the current climate.

I am sure most of us that work in licensing have been asked to explain what our job entails. My stock answer is to say I work in a Mickey Mouse business and quickly explain how a Mickey Mouse t-shirt happens. This explanation is effective but is getting a little dated so I have been delighted to see how high street optician Specsavers has embraced licensing. I now use it as my go to example to explain the business of licensing.

Specsavers is a company that uses licensing across different product ranges and age profiles. Currently it is promoting a Disney Mickey Mouse range prominently in the windows. This is linked to Mickey’s 90th anniversary. This anniversary seems to have been leveraged well by Disney and it has pulled together a number of interesting partnerships. Anniversaries offer brand owners a good opportunity to shine a light on a brand, coupled with a chance to kickstart things. I am currently working with Aardman on Wallace and Gromit’s 30th anniversary which is next year.

A lot of planning has gone into it to deliver a range of activities, new design resources and opportunities for licensees. Anniversaries are opportunities but ones that need to be proactively managed.


Returning to Specsavers, it uses a variety of marketing techniques to engage with consumers and licensing is intertwined with this. It is well known for its TV commercials and strap line, but it invests in window displays and also produces a couple of customer magazines. One is Specsavers for Kids. This combines some product information with activity pages and competitions for children.

The current issue highlights a new range of products featuring the Transformers movie Bumblebee and the issue is themed around this. Here Specsavers is making the most of a high profile movie adding some new dynamics to the product offering. I imagine it manages the inventory carefully and it is a time limited range.

For the film, this partnership has created a fresh communication platform and opened up some new retail space. Other children’s brands that Specsavers currently sells include JCB, a perfect brand for tough and durable spectacle frames. It also sells Mulan, Winnie the Poohand The Gruffalo.


Specsavers also publishes a magazine aimed at adults. The cover star of the current issue is Zoe Ball. A good example of how it uses celebrity spectacle wearers to promote the products. Other personalities it features in specific promotions about particular topics include Eamonn Holmes, Louise Redknapp and Hairy Biker Dave Myers. This is an example of how brands are tapping into the celebrity market and using celebrities as voices for specific campaigns.

Specsavers has recognised that spectacle frames can be fashion wear and trend driven. With this in mind it has a track record of working with designers and brands.

Current brands featured include Red or Dead – this product is interchangeable whereby the arms and frames of the spectacles can be changed allowing the wearer to mix up colourways and designs. It also has strong links with celebrities like Kylie Minogue and who have curated and designed collections. The celebrities talk about their designs and collections adding gravitas to the partnerships. Other featured brands include fashion brands Lyle & Scott, Karen Millen and Balmain. This theme extends to ranges with Tommy Hilfiger, Hackett, Quiksilver and Cath Kidston.

Fashion licensing is obviously a good route for Specsavers. I think it licences a lot of things directly, but I imagine it also tops up the offer by stocking product from licensees. The latter approach would allow it to respond to new trends and styles.

Specsavers is a really good example of how licensing is playing a role in different types of businesses and products. A reminder to us all that new business can be developed in genuinely new ways.


As we approach Remembrance Sunday, there have been more examples of licensed products and partnerships between brands and the Royal British Legion featuring the iconic poppy. One clever and timely product are pin badges produced in partnership with football clubs. I think this official programme will reassure fans that they are buying official merchandise with money flowing back to the Legion.

I bought my Millwall Poppy badge directly off the Legion website although they were on sale in the club shop as well. Apparently they sold out on the first day in-store so more were ordered. One aspect of official licensing campaigns we can overlook is illustrated by this example. Officially licensed or produced products can be a great reassurance to consumers.

I think these football club Poppy badges are a very smart move by the Legion, not least as there seems to be a plethora of pun badges on the market.

The other Royal British Legion Poppy product I thought stood out was a half pint mug from Emma Bridgewater. £5 from purchase of the mug goes to the Royal British Legion. The design features poppies designed in the signature Emma Bridgewater style. It is a lovely product that has a real keepsake quality to it and one that befits the brand it features.

It is hard for organisations like the Legion to strike a balance between raising funds and quality controlling the use of their brand. In this case I think it is a really effective partnership and it has created a product that works really well in a unique retail channel.


Finally, I think we are all finding the retail market challenging and confusing at the moment. One piece of activity I spotted this week added to my confusion but is probably a sign of the times – the times being that retailers need to find new ways of engaging with consumers and achieve cut through.

I saw online retailer Not on the High Street not quite on the high street, but on the station concourse. It had a pop up retail unit at Waterloo Station. I think this shows that retail is rapidly changing and it is difficult to pigeonhole things.

An open minded approach to selling and reaching consumers is probably the right mindset at the moment and remembering retail examples like Specsavers which show that licensing can be a valuable tool in a confused retail market if used wisely.

Ian Downes runs Start Licensing, an independent brand licensing agency. His Twitter handle is @startlicensing – he would welcome your suggestions for what to look out for.

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Final Nominees of LIMA Asian Licensing Awards 2018

The LIMA ASIAN Licensing Awards are widely recognized as the highest level of achievement in the industry and is dedicated to identifying the outstanding achievements in the Asian licensing markets. Winners will be announced during the Hong Kong International Licensing Show at the Opening Night Cocktail Reception on January 7, 2019:

This year, we have received nominations from 11 countries for 11 award categories and the number of nominations has increased by 30%.  The award judging mechanism is composed of 2 stages. At stage 1, the Awards judging panel gathered in October to shortlist final nominees. The 5 nominations with the highest total scores from each category will enter stage 2 where they will be placed online for a ballot by worldwide licensing industry players. Each voter (by company) will vote for one nomination in each category.

Asian Property of the Year

Property – Owner/Agent
Super Wings – ALPHA GROUP CO., LTD
Boonie Bears – Fantawild Animation Inc.

Corporate Brand / Lifestyle Property of the Year

Property – Owner/Agent
Coca-Cola – The Coca-Cola Company / CAA-GBG
Mickey Mouse – 90th Anniversary – The Walt Disney Company
Discovery Expedition – Discovery Communications, LLC / PPW Sports & Entertainment Limited
Pantone & Pantone Universe – Pantone LLC / PPW Sports & Entertainment Limited
Van Gogh Museum – Van Gogh Museum Enterprises B.V. / Shanghai Ruihe Culture & Art Development Co., Ltd

Digital Property of the Year

Property – Owner/Agent
Travel Frog – HIT-POINT / Alifish
Hatsune Miku – Crypton Future Media, Inc. / Shanghai Character Licensing Administrative Co., Ltd.

Entertainment Property of the Year – ANIMATED

Property – Owner/Agent
Boonie Bears: The Big Shrink – Fantawild Animation Inc.
PAW Patrol – Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products / Guangzhou Art-land Holding Co., Ltd.
Mickey Mouse – 90th Anniversary – The Walt Disney Company
Ejen Ali – Primeworks Studios and Wau Animation
Peppa Pig – Entertainment One

Entertainment Property of the Year – LIVE ACTION

Property – Owner/Agent
Avengers: Infinity War – The Walt Disney Company
Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom – Universal Pictures
Monster Hunt 2 – Edko Films Ltd.

Licensed Promotion of the Year

Promotion Name – Owner/ Promotion Licensee
Doraemon Selfie Contest – Fujiko Pro / ITC Limited
Super Wings X Yili QQ Star 2018 Summer Joint Promotion Project – ALPHA GROUP CO., LTD / INNER MONGOLIA YILI INDUSTRIAL GROUP CO., LTD.
PETS ROCK X Starbucks “Lets Rock” (China and Taiwan) – Polyblank Designs LTD (t / a Takkoda) / Starbucks
China Merchants Bank (CMB)”Angry Birds” Debit Cards – Rovio Entertainment Corp. / China Merchants Bank

Location-Based or Experiential Initiative of the Year

Name – Owner/Venue Partner
Miffy meets Kumoya – Mercis BV / Bakemono Pte Ltd
Angry Birds Play Center (ABPC) – Rovio Entertainment Corp. / Kidgoland International (Shanghai) Company Limited
Changi Loves Kids: Sesame Street has Arrived!- Sesame Workshop / Singapore Changi Airport
Frozen Carnival in Taiwan – The Walt Disney Company / Taipei 101
MTR Malls x Garfield G40 – Paws Inc. / MTR Corporation Limited

Retailer of the Year

Retailer – Property
Tmall – Avengers: Infinity War
Watsons – B.Duck
Baskin-Robbins – Despicable Me Franchise (Minions)
MINISO – Teddy Bear Collection

Licensee of the Year – Apparel & Accessory

Company – Property
Nautica – The Rap Of China
Li Ning – Mickey Mouse – 90th Anniversary
Hyungji Fashion Group Korea (Castelbajac) – Despicable Me Franchise (Minions)

Licensee of the Year – Houseware

Company – Property 
Menred Group Ltd. – Electrolux
Chengdu Fast Horse – KUNGFOOD
P&G(Olay) – Alice in Wonderland/Frozen/Mickey Mouse
A.S. Watsons Group Limited – Miffy
Shanghai M&G Stationery Company – Miffy

Licensee of the Year – Toy

Company – Property
Kai Shu Story – Super Wings
ledafood(Dongguan)Co., Ltd. – Peppa Pig
Hot Toys – Disney/Marvel/Star Wars
Uni-Fun – B.Duck
Mattel Inc. – Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom

The Snowman stars for Barbour in Christmas drive

New film uses real-life people to depict the impact that The Snowman has had on one family.

Heritage and lifestyle brand Barbour has launched its 2018 Christmas campaign which this year has once again been inspired by The Snowman.

In partnership with Snowman Enterprises and in conjunction with Penguin Ventures, Barbour has created a 110-second bespoke film.

It uses real life people to depict the impact that The Snowman has had on one family. Like the original film, it focuses on actions rather than words.

The film features the cast wearing a mix of Barbour product including classic styles alongside Barbour x The Snowman licensed product, exclusively produced in partnership with Penguin for this Christmas season.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Penguin Ventures to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Snowman,” said Paul Wilkinson, global marketing and commercial director at Barbour. “It is a classic and much loved story which has become an established part of family Christmas traditions.

“In our film, Evie’s enthusiasm and magical imagination really brings this story to life. It captures both the innocence of children and the nostalgia of adults. Everyone wants to believe that ‘Maybe just Maybe’, magic can happen.”

Thomas Merrington, creative director at Penguin Ventures, added: “It was a pleasure to work with Barbour again this year for the 40th anniversary of The Snowman. In this film, the team have beautifully captured the wonder and excitement that both children and adults alike experience when snow falls and that Raymond so eloquently conveyed in his timeless picture book The Snowman.

“The film is both a celebration of a much-loved story and a reminder that magic is still possible. We’re thrilled with the care and creativity that Barbour has shown in their execution of this entire campaign.”

The Barbour x The Snowman Christmas collection is available to purchase from Harrods, House of Fraser, Fenwick, and selected Barbour stores nationwide.

A special limited edition The Snowman pin will be given away with every Barbour purchase in-store and online.


Oh boy! A Mickey Mouse X Lacoste collab

The Walt Disney Co. has inked a deal with lifestyle brand Lacoste for a new collection of apparel and accessories that fete both Mickey Mouse’s 90th anniversary and Lacoste’s 85th year.

The new collection features both Mickey and Minnie Mouse across about 30 pieces including sneakers, leather goods, polos, tees, sweatshirts and accessories for kids and adults.

The new Mickey and Minnie range is set to debut at Lacoste stores on Nov. 1 in the U.S., with worldwide rollout set for Nov. 14.


Playstation and PBTEEN TEAM to design ultimate gaming room

Sony Interactive Entertainment has paired with PBteen, a Williams-Sonoma company, for a new line of officially-licensed PlayStation home furniture and décor.

playstation gaming room

The new collection is inspired by classic PlayStation symbols as well as the look and feel of the current PlayStation 4 gaming system and offers furniture, decorative accessories, lighting, functional storage and organization solutions for PlayStation systems and accessories.

Key items include a black suede and charcoal tweed bean bag chair with symbols and an acrylic light with multi-colored display and geometric shapes based on the game’s controller.

“This partnership with PBteen, a company known for its stylish design that resonates with the youth market, is a perfect complement to the PlayStation brand,” says Asad Qizilbash, vice president, marketing, SIE. “There’s impeccable attention to detail within each piece of the collection that PlayStation fans will truly appreciate, delivering fun and personal ways to decorate their gaming space.”

The PBteen Collection Inspired by PlayStation is available now at


Shikhar Dhawan and wife Aesha launch home decor brand ‘DaONE Home’

All roads led to the rooftop of the Trident Mumbai on Sunday 28th Oct. for the launch of cricketer turner entrepreneur Shikhar Dhawan & his wife Aesha Dhawan’s home décor brand DaONE Home. Named after what his peers fondly call him, DaONE Home is a blend of elegance and practicality, reflecting everything that the loving couple holds dear in their lives.

A décor brand aiming to make your personal space look more beautiful than ever, DaONE Home puts the uncompromising discipline and work ethic from the cricketing career of its co-founder into implementation. With exceptional textures, evocative prints, beautiful tones, and luxurious materials, DaONE Home’s wide range of products are crafted with utmost passion, helping you transform your home to reflect who you are on a holistic and endearing level.

Image result for shikhar dhawan

Talking about the decision to launch the brand, Shikhar DhawanCo-founder – DaONE Home, said, “Our homes are a natural extension of our own personalities, a reflection of our preferences and tastes. When Aesha and I were setting up our home, we realized the challenge that most Indians face when it comes to getting their living spaces to reflect their identities. While there were plenty of options available to choose from, no one place could give us the kind of comprehensive, end-to-end satisfaction that we were looking for. DaONE Home is our endeavor to address this major market gap.”

Aesha Dhawan, Co-founder – DaONE Home, added, “When we tied our nuptial knot and vowed to remain alongside each other all our lives, Shikhar and I promised to not let go of our strong individual identities. We envision our home as a place where that promise is reflected, where our entire family can flourish. This feeling of togetherness, family, and identity is at the core of what we aim to do with DaONE Home. With our home décor brand, we intend to make homes across India look exceptional, individualistic, thoughtful, and aesthetically pleasing.”

Boasting of beautiful collections such as White Marvel, Moonstruck, Honey Grey, Heirloom Natural, Boho Blue, Boaster Flicker and Feminine Neutral, DaONE has lovely upholsters and soft furnishings such as bed linen, cushions and table linen available presently. The collections can be surfed through and purchased online at

Shikhar also serenaded us all with an impromptu performance on the flute

Latin America Day of Licensing

That’s right, LIMA is going to Lima! LATAM is the fourth largest region for retail sales of licensed merchandise in the world and the fastest-growing region in the world, according to the 2018 LIMA Global Licensing Study. Interested in expanding your business into this burgeoning market?…

Join LIMA for our third annual Latin American licensing conference and showcase, Latin America Day of Licensing 2018, on November 8 in Lima, Peru. This informative event will provide brand owners, agents, licensees, retailers and other related business professionals the opportunity to network and grow their business in the Latin American market.

Latin America Day of Licensing will feature tabletop exhibits by agents and brands, as well as an opportunity to learn from licensing professionals in the region on a variety of Latin America-focused topics, including:

This session will feature case studies on how new and struggling brands reinvented themselves into successful enterprises by using the opportunities made available to them by licensing.  The discussion will focus on the qualities a brand must have to be licensed, and how to build a brand with a successful licensing program as the ultimate goal.

Speaker: Michael Prada, Senior Licensee Manager for Latam, Sesame Workshop 


Making the consumer feel good strengthens the business.  Realizing that generating experiences and / or valuable content is a key to generating customer and brand preference.  Consumers make decisions based on experiences – and now more than ever – these customers are in the search of new experiences. This session will address how to create brand memorability and how to be disruptive. Two levers for growth.Speaker: Catalina Bonnet – Country Manager Kantar Milllward Brown

Why Peru?

Over the past decade, Peru has been the fastest growing economy in Latin America with a 5.5% average annual growth rate, and the region’s second lowest inflation rate at 3.6%. Peru maintains the highest consumer confidence levels in Latin America. With a population of 32 million, Peru stands as the third largest market in Latin America and has the highest spending per capita on licensed products and services in the region. It is also ideally situated to attract attendance from all of Latin America.


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Here is a partial list of the companies who will participate as exhibitors and sponsors: 

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Join Us!

For more information on how to sponsor, exhibit and attend Latin America Day of Licensing, please go to:

You can also contact Olga Pinzon at olga.pinzon@grupodecorse.comor +51 98933 1380.

Hendrix secures a haze of licensing partners

Epic Rights has announced more than 50 global partners for its Authentic Hendrix program. Perryscope Productions, the exclusive worldwide merchandising agents for Authentic Hendrix and Experience Hendrix, brokered the deals.

Jimi Hendrix

Epic Rights has announced more than 50 global partners for its Authentic Hendrix program. Perryscope Productions, the exclusive worldwide merchandising agents for Authentic Hendrix and Experience Hendrix, brokered the deals.

New partners include:

North America

  • ACCO for calendars
  • American Classics for apparel
  • American Needle for headwear
  • Bentex Group for infant and toddler apparel
  • C&D Visionary for fan merch
  • C-Life Group for apparel
  • Chaser for fashion apparel
  • Get Primped for fashion tops
  • H3 Sportswear for accessories
  • I mpact Merchandising for apparel
  • Liquid Blue for apparel Lucky Brand for apparel
  • NTD for apparel
  • Philcos for apparel and accessories
  • Rockin Pins for enamel pins
  • Stoned Immaculate for fashion tops
  • Trevco for apparel (e-commerce)
  • Wildcat Retro Brands for apparel and headwear

Worldwide and International

  • Amplified for apparel (worldwide, excluding North America)
  • Aquarius Entertainment for posters, puzzles and calendars (worldwide)
  • Licensing Essentials for apparel and accessories (Australia/New Zealand)
  • Live Nation for apparel (USA, Europe, South America and Southeast Asia, excluding Japan)
  • Lucie Kaas for collectible Kokeshi Dolls (worldwide) MJC for sleepwear (worldwide)
  • EMP Merchandising for apparel and accessories (Europe)
  • Pan Inc. for apparel and electronic accessories (Asia)
  • Rock Off Trade for apparel and accessories (worldwide, excluding North America)
  • Bioworld for apparel and accessories (worldwide)
  • Blitzway for collectible figures (worldwide)
  • Bluescentric for apparel for e-commerce (worldwide)
  • Brands In for apparel and accessories (worldwide)
  • Junk Food for apparel (worldwide)
  • Knucklebonz for high-end collectible figures (worldwide
  • MadeWorn for high-end fashion apparel (worldwide)
  • Molecule8 for high-end collectible figures (worldwide) Strax for fine art (worldwide)
  • GB Eye for posters and domestics (worldwide, excluding North America)
  • Pyramid for wall art and stationery (worldwide) Titan Publishing for comic books (worldwide) “

Jimi’s amazing artistry and his legacy are the driving force behind all that we do,” says Janie Hendrix, chief executive officer and president, Experience Hendrix and Authentic Hendrix. “Keeping his music prominent within the industry is a responsibility bestowed upon us that we embrace. Jimi’s catalog remains relevant, and he continues to influence the culture of modern music, inspiring artists and fans alike. The spirit he poured into his songs has lived on for over five decades. Epic and Perryscope have chosen licensing partners who embrace Jimi’s style to create products reflective of his uniqueness, and we are thrilled to see these products come to life.”

Recently, Epic Rights rereleased a 50th-anniversary box set of Electric Ladyland and a Jimi Hendrix e-commerce site.


SoundCloud expands direct licensing to wider array of artists

SoundCloud, a popular streaming music service with wide appeal to new artists seeking to break into the top-heavy recording industry, is introducing a new offer to help musicians make money from their work, bypassing music label distributors.

The Berlin-based firm said it is opening up its previously invite-only “premier monetization” programme to hundreds of thousands of artists who offer their recordings on SoundCloud’s music streaming service, and qualify as professional creators.

Rival streaming music services include Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music, which typically restrict direct music sales to top artists, if at all. SoundCloud said in a statement that it would meet or beat the revenue split offered to artists by other streaming services.

Spotify is experimenting with offering direct licensing deals to some artists, it confirmed in July.

The decade-old SoundCloud counts 20 million creators who have posted content on its platform. It has been instrumental in launching the careers of recent chart-topping artists including Chance the Rapper, DJ duo Louis the Child, rapper Bryson Tiller and genre-bending soul singer Kali Uchis.

However, SoundCloud – which has one of the larger global audiences for free, advertising-supported listening outside of China – has struggled to convert users into paying subscribers.

Those hurdles have remained even after it offered its low-priced $4.99 a month ‘SoundCloud Go’ service last year.

The service said it would pay qualifying artists in its SoundCloud Pro or Pro Unlimited programme who are at least 18 years of age directly each month. It will start with artists with at least 5,000 plays a month, in the United States, as well as major European markets, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The direct licensing programme is aimed at newer, independent artists. SoundCloud has licensing deals with major music labels which cover many top artists.

For copyright reasons, only original music for which creators own all the rights can be offered, SoundCloud said. Covers, sampling and songs by artists with a track record of copyright violations will disqualify them from participating.


Kaufman says Licensing “Best industry in the world”

Brand Licensing Europe kicked off with the first official keynote session at The Licensing Academy with Pam Kaufman, president, Viacom/Nickelodeon Consumer Products.

Brand Licensing Europe kicked off with the first official keynote session at The Licensing Academy with Pam Kaufman, president, Viacom/Nickelodeon Consumer Products.  During the fireside chat with Amanda Cioletti, content director, License Global, Kaufman shared insights into the changing retail landscape and discussed how the newly-formed, globally-aligned Viacom/Nickelodeon Consumer Products positions the organization for success and how consumer products fits into Viacom’s broader strategy. Kaufman said that she was having “the best time ever” in her new role and is positive about the collaboration between Viacom and Nickelodeon. Now that one team is handling the portfolio across the company, she is looking for licensing opportunities within the new and classic library at VNCP and Paramount Pictures for films such as Top Gun, Clueless and more. She is also meeting with teams and assessing markets, with a focus on Asia, Brazil and Mexico.

With a raft of programming for kids and families, Kaufman is looking to Viacom’s properties like “South Park” and “Jersey Shore” to expand licensing opportunities. “Soul Train,” a VNCP property, is approaching its 50th anniversary, and Kaufman is seeking partners to work with for the classic dance show.   “Paw Patrol,” another VNCP property, has become a favorite show with kids and adults alike, which caught Kaufman by surprise.

“Every time I go somewhere, watch something or read a Kardashian post [on social media], there’s always something about ‘Paw Patrol,’” says Kaufman.  Plans for “Paw Patrol” include a direct-to-video program for “Mighty Pups” at Walmart in the U.S.  When speaking about the classic property “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” which received an image overhaul for the “Rise of the Turtles” animated series on Nickelodeon, Kaufman found that keeping a 30-year-old property like “TMNT” relevant was a relatively easy challenge.  “It really is in the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’’ DNA to change it up,” says Kaufman.

One of the new strategies was to premiere “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” across all digital channels, including YouTube. The premiere show received 8.5M global views.  Kaufman also shared how working with an influencer like JoJo Siwa helped VNCP get into an overlooked market. 

“We saw a retail opportunity for 9-to 14-year-olds,” says Kaufman. “It was an opportunity for the company to go to retail and amplify a space that is underserved.”  Next year, Siwa is celebrating her 16th birthday by releasing new music and a new animated series, “The JoJo Bow Bow Show Show” featuring her dog Bow Bow, who is breaking out as a pet influencer. Kaufman showed nothing but enthusiasm for the future of the licensing industry.  

“We’re in the best industry right now in the world,” says Kaufman. “The retail landscape changes, but people are never going to stop shopping. We’re looking for a lot of ways to connect to the consumer. And there’s more content being consumed than ever before.”