BLE Round UP
As an intern of Fluid for almost 6 months now, Fluid gave me the great opportunity to accompany them on the biggest UK licensing event of the year. Brand Licensing Europe took place October 1st - 3rd, I spent my two days networking, instagraming and absorbing important business info amongst the top brands and licensors in the globe. The following blog will review my time and my favourite experiences from BLE
A dawn view of the River Thames greeted day one of Brand Licensing Europe 2019. Newly relocated to the ExCel centre just over from Greenwich, it was a only an 8 minute ride on the Emirates Air Line over the river, which actually had a great view of Greenwich, the O2, and Canary Wharf. I highly recommend tourists and locals try this out, at least once, seeing as its only £4.00!
With the beauty of Greenwich and the thankful avoidance of London Underground, day one already seemed to be a success. Visitors and Exhibitors were flooding the entrance - and even from the outside the ExCel was dressed for BLE, erupting with merch.
With the ticket scanned, lanyard attached, breakfast in one hand and coffee in another (which was surprisingly cheap) BLE was a go. Inside the convention is an overwhelming maze of huge decorated stands, character parades, merchandise and mannequins – not to mention the mass of suited up visitors pacing for meetings.
Take a look at the day one story here: https://bit.ly/2IuIAZD
BEYOND THE BOOK
The first visit (and personal highlight of mine) was to #BeyondTheBook, a small stand where famous Mr. Men illustrator Adam Hargreaves sat, drawing live and customised character illustrations for hand out. Naturally, Mr Tickle was the first choice, I couldn’t help my inner child. Sorry the drawing is not for sale.
Looking back at last weeks BLE post it seems relevant to mention that Lazy Oafs’ x Mr Men collaboration was featured by a LOT of the staff around the #BeyondTheBook collection, maybe even Lazy Oaf queen Gemma Shiel was visiting too?
As well as Mr. Men x Lazy Oaf, A couple of great collaborative fashion pieces were premiered #freshofftherunway at BLE this year. This was another personal highlight of mine, combinations of fashion and pop culture? Nike also has collaborated with SpongeBob in a quirky fashion line, stored in pods attached to the Nickelodeon/Viacom hub. Yes please!
Ellesse x Smiley
SpongeBob x Gresham Blake
Barbie x Filippo Laterza.
In the pockets of time between meetings and seminars, It seemed good to take in the sheer size and design of the exhibitions and new pieces. Literally everywhere you look there is at least one huge character parading around in the very little space there was to walk between stands. But the booth that took my vote was the quaint mini Garrison Pub accompanied with real Peaky Blinder outfits and barstools- they were offering meet and greets with Arthur and Tommy lookalikes, but arguably no one can compete.
Turning to fashion and home- the Heritage x Interiors collaboration of wallpaper designs from the Natural History Museum was fabulous. Staged in very IKEA-like booths set up like living rooms accompanied with sofas and tables, It was fascinating to see the beautiful William Morris like detail up so close (you COULD even touch it).
Keynote: the best of British animation
This seminar feautured leaders in the animation world including Aardmann, Blue-Zoo and Magic Light Pictures. As an open discussion (mostly lead by Blue-Zoos Oli Hyatt) chatted about how animation has developed to present and mentioned some amazing prospects for its future. Even now, cartoons aren’t just for kids, animation for adults is a booming trend – as long as the dialogue and topic hits the laughs, everyone’s happy (I’m looking at you, Big Mouth). Another interesting point, how will animation affect the future of VR? Lets just say soon YOU will be able to have first-hand experience in a live story telling mode.
To finish the first day off, I joined in on a chat with BBC studios, and realised everyone really does love David Attenborough – he is the King of documentaries, and activist youths preach him.
With slightly miserable weather, but a better gage on BLE Day two – it started off with fast networking and licensing talks. Again, the breakfast was unexpectedly budget-friendly for London prices (sausage sandwich for £3?)
Delving into the furthest part of ExCel, you realise how big of a building it is. They had some delicious looking lunch options available? I highly recommend visiting just to try the burritos.
Seminar #3: UK Book Brands: Trends and bestsellers in Food/Drink
A little different to what we do here at Fluid, and I wasn’t expecting it to be so, but nevertheless very interesting! Vegan diets, Joe Wicks and STILL Jamie Oliver sit at the top of cookbooks and chef diets in 2019. Everyone’s going vegan! Over the past few years I’ve also noticed a surge In demand for novelty, light-hearted and niche topic books like ‘Chinese Takeaway Cookbook’ (Kwoklyn Wan), ‘Gin Made me do it’ (Jassy Davis and Ruby Taylor) and ‘Root n Leaf’ (Rich Harris). Who knew the naked chef himself would still be top after two decades?
I then took a step back into old school video games in the PowerStation #Arkade section. In the form of little rooms, filled Street Fighter, PACMAN, and Mario - sat big kids in suits remiscing at their childhood days sat infront of tiny tv screens. It’s fair to say I’m not a pro gamer, but nevertheless basked in the nostalgia of It all.
Along the side of Powerstations' #Arkade stood an immense 14-foot long artwork timeline of gaming tech through the decades, each section symbolising the definitive colour and style of its time. (We at Fluid were most definitely in our element here)
What an amazing week at #ble2019, a huge thanks to all our partners for helping us to make it happen @bandainamco, @Sega, @Activision, @Difused, @Rovio, @sybogames, @BioworldMerch, @Disguise.#greatweek #success #tradeshow pic.twitter.com/0nVWJLJDeu
— PowerStation Studios (@PowerStnStudios) October 7, 2019
After a couple of interesting meetings, the Van Gogh Café and the Difuzed stand was the final stop of day two, checking out the recently licensed merch. Working with IPs from Coca Cola, Space Invaders and Playstation. It was probably had the coolest licensed fashion in the expo, but sadly the merch couldn’t be purchased (otherwise I’d be completely broke).
The two days of BLE were busy - overall, a very informative but also fun experience. I look forward to seeing what BLE has to offer in 2020 (the theme is fashion and so I hope its fabulous).
Social and Creative Intern.