Of the more than 400 companies exhibiting at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., this month, almost 150 are new to the show this year.
Both familiar brands and hot new properties make up the roster of Licensing Expo newcomers, offering limitless opportunities for new business even for professionals that attend the show regularly. Here are just a few highlights from Licensing Expo 2014's freshman class.
A longtime Brand Licensing Europe exhibitor, the British animation studio (creator of characters including Shaun the Sheep, Wallace & Gromit and Morph) is traveling across the pond to build its growing base of global licensees.
The studio's focus will be on Shaun the Sheep, which will be boosted by a feature film release next year, but the company will also be showcasing the Wallace & Gromit and Morph brands.
"2015 will be the Year of the Sheep for us, and we have a full calendar of activities," says Rob Goodchild, head of licensing, Aardman. "Our goal is to inspire existing partners to build on their current business with Shaun the Sheep and to attract more to the flock. We'd also like to lay the foundations for a U.S. merchandise program."
The iconic British sportswear brand is turning 100 this month, and the company is celebrating with its inaugural appearance at Licensing Expo.
The company, which began as a hosiery manufacturer back in 1914, now creates the uniform "kits" for hundreds of professional soccer and cricket teams around the world. Now Admiral is looking to re-introduce its brand to retailers and licensees in the U.S. and around the world, says the company's chief executive officer, Paul Hamburger.
Admiral will be showcasing its range of offerings at the show, which in addition to sportswear also includes fashion apparel, footwear and accessories. The company is also looking to expand into new categories with direct-to-retail partnerships like its recent deal for workout wear with Primark in the U.K.
Arsenal Football Club
In other soccer news, one of the world's biggest football teams will also be showcasing its brand at Licensing Expo this year.
One of the most successful clubs in English football, Arsenal FC is known around the world for its distinct playing style.
The company works closely with its licensees to develop long-term partnerships for product around the world.
Founded in 1926, Ducati Motor Holding creates sports-inspired motorcycles characterized by "Desmodromic" engines, innovative design and avant-garde technology.
The Italian motorsports brand is joining Licensing Expo with a long list of global licensees in categories ranging from art to homewares to gaming.
Grumpy Cat, the Internet meme that has taken the world by storm, will be bringing her special brand of cynical charm to Licensing Expo.
Not only will Grumpy Cat Ltd. be presenting the brand for licensing opportunities, but the celebrity feline herself will be making an appearance at the show.
Since first hitting the social media scene in 2012, Grumpy Cat (real name: Tardar Sauce) has already amassed a number of licensing partners including Gund for plush, TCG for toys and even a line of specialty coffee drinks. She currently has more than 5 million Facebook fans.
The iconic jackets from the '80s are back and ready to license, with a revamped, retro-yet-modern look.
Made famous by celebrities such as Burt Reynolds and David Hasselhoff, the brand has made a comeback in recent years with a range of retro-chic styles for men and women as well as sportswear and tech accessories.
NFL Players Inc.
As the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association, NFL Players Inc. represents the rights of more than 1,800 active National Football League players.
A one-stop shop for player-centered licensing, marketing and promotions, the organization is looking to build awareness of its offerings in the B2B community.
"The ability to directly engage with world-class athletes in America's favorite sport is a unique benefit that only NFLPI can offer," says David Cooper, vice president, Coyne PR, which represents NFLPI. "NFL Players Inc. has the ability to offer creative, strategic and fun approaches to growing new licensed business in a collaborative fashion."
A number of NFL players will be making appearances at the Expo including Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Johnson Bademosi of the Cleveland Browns and Michael Floyd of the Arizona Cardinals.
NFLPI will also be the headline sponsor of the annual Opening Night Party, taking place the first evening of Licensing Expo.
This contemporary lifestyle brand has cross-generational appeal, with an aesthetic that combines illustration and modern design.
California-based artist Brandon Ragnar Johnson's work combines an eclectic mix of subject matters and styles such as film noir, fashion illustration, classic cartoons, mid-century design and architecture, punk rock and monsters.
His work has been collected in numerous books and can be found in films and on television, apparel, toys, textiles and home goods.
Tony Hawk (Cherokee)
After buying the Tony Hawk apparel brand in January, Cherokee is kicking off the property's licensing program at Licensing Expo.
Founded by the famed skateboarder, who will be appearing at the show, Cherokee is looking to capitalize on Hawk's continuing global appeal.
Among the territories that Cherokee is targeting for the brand are those where Hawk has high awareness including Canada, the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Japan and Australia.
The plush toy company, which had great success with its popular Beanie Babies toys, is giving the licensing community an up-close look at its iconic brand.
Since first introducing Beanie Babies in 1993 and causing a collecting frenzy among kids and adults alike, Ty has created more than 300 different designs for the line.
One of the largest plush producers in the world, Ty will highlight its Beanie Babies and Beanie Boos (similar to Beanie Babies but with bigger eyes and heads) brands at Licensing Expo.
More Brands Not to Be Missed
Art & Design
Museum of Pop Culture
The Real Tooth Fairy
Brands & Agents
The Baltimore & Ohio Railway Museum
High Times magazine
The Metis Group (Smokey Bear)
Characters & Entertainment
AwesomenessTV (part of DreamWorks)
Fashion & Lifestyle
Old Guys Rule
Urban by DS
Sourcing & Production