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No news is show news: licensing show 2009.

The talk of the show was the show. Expectations were so low in many quarters that conducting meetings, seeing anyone in the aisles, and running into most if not all of the regulars lifted spirits. The bonuses: easy move-ins for most, a pleasant exhibit area, clean bathrooms, no trekking crosstown and back, "No tchotchke lookie-loo looters" (thank you Marc Mikulich, Wiley), "No yahoos" (Jerry Houle, Bliss House).

"People who are here are here for a reason," said Rand Marlis, Creative Licensing, echoing many. As has been true for many years, Licensing International Expo has become less a show to show off new properties and more a show to meet with licensees, test concepts, and conduct business. Retail presence? Mostly in the form of failed chains returning as IP to be licensed out.

As expected with the move to Las Vegas, the show has become more entertainment-centric than ever. It didn't help that two of the highest profile brand agencies--Beanstalk and Joester-Loria--had booths a fraction the size of their old selves, tucked out of central view. (Beanstalk will be back in full splendor next year; Joester-Loria ran into booth design problems after show producer Advanstar moved the event from two floors to one a month before the event.)

The studio booths were relatively modest--partly a reflection of the economy, partly that no one had major new properties to introduce. Still, as Art Brands' Larry Levine put it on Day 1, "This is the least-energy licensing show I've ever attended, but there are good buyers here."

The universal gripe of the show was poor signage. Other complaints were about the venue and format for the LIMA Awards Gala. Clearly LIMA hadn't anticipated that more than 800 would attend (the better problem to have), and many commented on how dark it was ("you couldn't see what you were eating") and that networking was impossible because it was so noisy.

People told us they felt bad for Hall Of Fame honoree Greg Battersby. "I feel like I should call Greg and apologize, and I had nothing to do with the event other than being there," said Lewis Stark of royalty accounting firm Eisner LLP.

But even those still grumbling about the move (my fellow New Yorkers: Give it up) spoke well of the show in the end. Whether any of the apparel, publishing, or other New York-based industries will trek to Vegas in the future, who knows?

"Will the show definitively be in Vegas next year?" I asked Advanstar. "We're here forever," said one sales executive with a smile. The official line is yes for 2010 and they'll "look at the numbers and the evaluations" beyond that.

Finally, a potential competing show with New "fork dates in April 2010 sent an e-mail blast on Thursday as the Vegas show was winding down: "Remember. You have a choice ..." it said in the subject line. People were feeling so good about Vegas that it was laughable. No one we spoke to wants to see the business divided across two events. "DOA" was the consensus

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Author:Mayer, Ira
Publication:Licensing Letter
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 15, 2009
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