The Sport of Licensing

European Perspective

The complex world of Olympic Games licensed products was aired at the Licensing Summit held in London last month, just before reports first broke that adidas—the European sportswear brand with plenty of licensed product extensions—could be named as the overall sponsor for the event.

Charles Wigeranta, London 2012's director of commercial negotiations—he's a lawyer by trade—said that licensed product business expected from the UK Olympics in five years time could be "in the order of magnitude" of £400 million ($800 million) at retail, a sum not to be sniffed at for the royalties and margin that generates.

The figure was created by looking at what licensed product had generated in other summer Olympic Games in other cities in the recent past, including Athens and Atlanta, and then manipulated into a guesstimate for what London could expect for 2012.

Also based on previous Games, the biggest-selling items are likely to be pins and badges—that is very low-cost, very low-margin items that he and everyone else who gets involved will hope to sell in the hundreds of thousands. The deals are already being discussed, along with stamps from Royal Mail. So, too, are the sportswear and some clothing deals. By the time the Beijing Games open in the summer of 2008, clothing and pins will be on the shelves in stores in that city.

But this is a rather complex business. The IP rights owned by London 2012 are for the UK only. The Olympic Committees in each country own others, and it is thought that Team GB athletes may only be part of deals when they are wearing their official kit.

I'm absolutely certain that Olympic Games around the world are sources of revenue for some—I'm wondering if it's lawyers who will make the easiest gain.

A Fairy-Tale Wedding

And are you ready for Disney bridalwear in Europe? The range first launched in the United States in April and the brand is working on a rollout for Europe. No full details are available yet, but Anne Gates, executive vice president and managing director of Disney Consumer Products Europe, revealed the plan when she also spoke at the Licensing Summit.

It was part of her talk that looked at how a brand can be stretched way beyond its core. In the fantasy world of Disney, bridalwear seems far away from Mickey Mouse on first look. But if you think about all the little girls who have dreamed of being a Disney Princess... then it looks like their dreams will be able to come true as adults on the ultimate dressing-up day of their lives.

While Disney will always be focused on children and children's products, Gates said the potential for extensions into non-core areas was substantial and it could be done without taking focus away from the core. That's because the emotional connection between Disney and Disney characters and consumers is so strong. But that's supported with some very hard-core marketing—Disney will spend some $200 million on advertising in Europe alone this year.

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