First Word--November 2004

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In past editorials I've mentioned the first-ever MIPCOM Jr. Licensing Challenge, held October 3 at MIPCOM Jr. in Cannes, France, in partnership with License! and MIPCOM Jr./MIPCOM owner/organizer Reed Midem. License! received a total of 26 entries to this year's challenge, from which a "Final Four" were chosen. In front of an international jury of experts, the four finalists—Bernard (Korean and Spanish co-production), Bongo Bi-Lingo Buddy (U.S.), Jack Belly Bean-Curious Space Traveler (Australia), and Galactik Football (France)—"pitched" their properties. While I consider all of them winners (as their concepts were new, unique, and innovative), there can only be one. Congratulations to Synergy Media/BRB Internacional for Bernard, a silent comedy about the adventures of a polar bear. Many thanks are in order to a top-notch jury that included: Gary Knell of Sesame Workshop, Helen McAleer of BBC Worldwide, Jane Ritson-Parsons of Hasbro Properties Group, Ronnen Harary of Spin Master Toys, and Fred Gaffney of Gaffney International. The chairman of the jury, Warren Kornblum, former chief marketing officer of Toys "R" Us and now president/chairman of Shadow Entertainment and Shadow Branding, did a stellar job to coordinate the panel and moderate the pitch session. Until the second annual MIPCOM Jr. Licensing Challenge...

In addition, License! extends its thanks to Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products Worldwide, for his keynote presentation during MIPCOM, October 4. In that presentation, Mooney touched upon Disney past and focused in on Disney future, particularly its W.I.T.C.H. property, its upcoming films and potential franchises (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, for example), and Disney Consumer Products' foray into interactive (Disney's new computer system for children, for example).

There were some properties-to-watch at this year's MIPCOM Jr. and MIPCOM, and I'll reveal those next month in our December Source Book, a compilation of statistics and research conducted by License!'s editorial team throughout 2004, plus property predictions from each of our editors by categories.

This month, we provide a look at a sport-to-watch: Professional Bull Riders (PBR). First, it's not a rodeo. Second, from 2003 to 2004, the sport has been gaining ground with females, and with a younger set. Third, PBR already has amassed 37 licensees. And last, PBR hasn't even scratched the surface in licensing, merchandising, co-branding, promotions, and sponsorships. So kick back and learn more about this industry newcomer (remember the bull pen outside the Javits Center in New York during Licensing 2004 International Show?).

Keeping an eye on markets outside the U.S., License! turns its attention to the international retail climate and how a variety of licensors are penetrating new and unfamiliar territories. While we learned that the retail environment is similar to that of the U.S. (shrinking, competitive, exclusive deals), we did receive good news at press time from Australia: The Coles Myer Group, which comprises retailers Target, Kmart, and Myer, reported a full year (July 2003 to June 2004 financial year) profit increase of 26.5 percent. You'll find a list of emerging markets to watch, and a glimpse at how some licensors are thinking globally but acting locally.

Until next month...

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