The Lowdown on the Rocket Challenge

Among a number of onsite events during BLE that have become almost as well established as the show itself is the Rocket Challenge. This is an event that has taken place every year since 2007, during which independent licensing company Rocket Licensing gets together with one of the brands in its portfolio to come up with a trial of skill, coordination and accuracy that will strain the nerves and stamina of the best and brightest in the licensing and retail industry. It’s tough and it’s testing. It’s also a bit silly and a lot of fun. We found out more from joint managing directors of Rocket Licensing, Rob Wijeratna and Charlie Donaldson …

How, when and why did the Rocket Challenge come about?

Rob: It started in 2007 with the Dangerous Book for Boys Conker Challenge. The brand was about old-fashioned do-it-yourself fun, so using one of the themes of the book as inspiration for a light-hearted onsite competition–and one that would bring people to the stand, of course–seemed like a nice idea. It proved so successful we decided to keep it going.

What has happened since?

Charlie: Every year since 2007 we’ve been able to get together with a client and come up with something that captures the spirit of a brand while also allowing men and women in suits to do something silly in between their meetings. And the challenges have been very diverse. It’s not just been about action or effort but skill and style. So those of you with good memories should remember the Atari Arcade Machine Challenge in 2008, the Scalextric Racing Challenge in 2009, the
Puss In Boots Olympic Fencing Challenge in 2010, the Cat In The Hat Speed Reading Challenge in 2011, and the (blindfold) Pin The Eyes And Mouth On The Annoying Orange Challenge in 2012.

What has the standard been like?

Rob: You’d be surprised–or possibly not–at the number of Scalextric, conkers and Asteroids fans out there. We even found a few decent fencers, albeit we put them up against Olympic fencer Alex O’Connell so it was hard to tell. But the most impressive performance to date was probably John Carolan–head of buying, childrenswear at Sainsburys–who won the Scalextric challenge with a time that might even have impressed Lewis Hamilton…

Does it get harder to think up a new challenge every year or so?

Charlie: A bit, but only because so many possibilities come to mind. We have a diverse roster to choose from, ranging from pre-school brands like the Very Hungry Caterpillar and classic properties like Rocky to modern comedies like "Mrs. Brown’s Boys" and award-winning dramas like "Breaking Bad." Then when we go with a particular brand we have to find a challenge that works with that brand. Mind you we have nearly 12 months to think about it…

What is this year’s challenge?

Rob: Glad you asked! To celebrate the release of the new Ghostbusters film in July next year, Rocket proudly presents the Ghostbusters Challenge! You have to try to save the world from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man armed only with a marshmallow gun and wearing a blindfold. So why not come to stand G005 on Tuesday any time from the start of the show up until about 3.30 and try to hit a target held up by Stay Puft with a specially designed marshmallow shooter? You might even win the Rocket Cup, which will be presented with great fanfare at 4pm.