In stark contrast to the crazed atmosphere of New York Licensing Show, last month’s Brand Licensing London whetted licensing community appetites in a venue sized to facilitate information digestion. And while many of the entertainment properties presented at the event were previously showcased in New York–the splashy debuts of the BBC’s Andy Pandy and Ace Lightning notable exceptions–the Brand Licensing floor was peppered with properties tying into greeting cards and music, both of which are U.K. market growth sectors.
London-based agency The Licensing Company has been active in both sectors recently, welcoming pop sensations Blue and Atomic Kitten, and greeting card properties The Magic Pants Factory (from Purple Ronnie creator Giles Andreae) and Humphrey’s Corner (created by children’s illustrator Sally Hunter) to its stable of brands.
Boy band Blue and girl band Atomic Kitten have created U.K. market hype with covers of American hit songs Too Close (Next) and Eternal Flame (The Bangles), respectively. TLC is seeking to translate the screaming fan quotient to retail merch lines and was shopping the show for new licensees and promo partners on both. The beat went on a little further down the exhibition carpet with Granada Media showcasing pop sensation Hear’Say, the five-member band derived from the U.K. version of the Popstars TV format. With a 20-strong roster of licensees on board, Granada is searching for additional promotional/sponsorship partners, with some licensed categories still available as of press time.
On the greeting card front, just-inked TLC licensees include International Greetings, which is creating a line of Magic Pants stationery and bags for debut next spring, and The Art Group, which has developed a new Humphrey’s Corner greeting card line slated to hit retail in time for holiday 2001.
BKN Consumer Products is ramping up brand-building efforts for Hallmark Cards UK property Forever Friends. Repped by BKN for more than 12 years, the brand will receive a 2002 push with GOSH! International (plush gift) and Trademark Collections (bags/accessories) teaming up for a coordinated product launch at the Spring Gift Fair next February. The GOSH! Line will be available to third-party licensees for international distribution, focusing on European territories where the brand is gaining ground–France, Greece, Germany, Benelux, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia. Just-inked licensee Helix (stationery/bags) rounds out the new lineup of Forever Friends strategic gift partners.
Greeting card companies themselves are also testing out the licensing waters, with U.K.-based firm The Wright Sisters exhibiting for the second year in a row. Wright Sisters’ kids line Cheeky Chutney & Chums–launched as a range of 16 cards in February 2000–debuted at last year’s show and has since expanded to include over 100 designs with new characters. At press time, a footwear deal with a yet-to-be-named manufacturer had just been inked.