What’s In a Name or Image? License Fees!

Characters came to Licensing Expo from all over the world. As part of this Kakao exhibit, the sign says, “Hello Las Vegas, We are from Seoul.”
Photo by Diane Taylor

Fame has all its ups and downs, but one of the ups is that a famous name (alive or dead) or a famous image can make money when its brand is licensed to appear on clothing, toys, games, books, etc. In 2018, brand owners earned a whopping $15 billion in license fees. One of those brand owners, WWE, even has its own cookbook!

Last week I attended Licensing Expo 2019, an event organized by the Global Licensing Group at Informa Markets. Some 5000 brands were displayed at the expo for an estimated 16,000 attendees. Among the attendees were retailers, licensees, manufacturers, distributors and licensing agents.

I have attended this show in the past, but this time I seemed to run into a hall full of cartoon characters, some from the U.S. and many from Asia. We are told that nearly a third of unit sales for products sold to or purchased for childen up to the age of 14 feature a licensed character, personality or sports league logo. We are also told that licensing is increasingly becoming an international business.

Licensing Expo is part of Licensing Week in Las Vegas. Attendees could also take part in presentations such as, “A Case Study in Esports Licensing: Activision Blizzard’s Key Learnings from Overwatch League” and “The Art of Licensed Fashion by MAGIC Marketplace”. A costumed character parade was available twice on the show floor, contest awards were given and a “Pitch the Brands” opportunity was available as well.

But of course in addition to cartoons, names like The Property Brothers, WWE, Boy Scouts of America, Coca Cola, Chia Pet, Godiva, Friends, Smirnoff, Batman (he turns 80 this year), Pink Floyd, Warren Buffett, Britney Spears, KISS and Ghostbusters were all part of the licensing world on display last week.

A popular spot for souvenir photos was this throne in the Warner Brothers/HBO exhibit.
Photo by Diane Taylor

License Global magazine talked about “authenticity” in branding, noting that “According to a 2017 survey by Cohn & Wolf, 91 percent of consumers said they will reward a brand for its authenticity by making a purchase, investment or endorsement.” The brand also must be a company whose values align with an individual’s set of morals and ethics.

Looking in my own closet, I see a couple of shirts with a casino logo, one or two with sports logos and even one with the photo of a singer.

Get famous, folks! The license fees are waiting.

Enjoy the accompanying video where I visited just a few of the exhibits at the show.


One response on “What’s In a Name or Image? License Fees!

  1. Loved watching this video! Seeing brands out there from when I was a child still getting licensed and, in some cases, being “redeveloped” for modern times was an eye-opener. Guess I’ll hang on to those old games and dolls…future generations may find them as interesting as I did! Thanks for sharing such great info spoken clearly at a great pace !

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