The Half-Full Glass
By Jennifer Marks -- Home Textiles Today, 6/13/2005 12:00:00 AM
Licensing people may be among the world's greatest optimists.
They trumpet thousands of properties few have heard of, artists whose work is neither widely distributed nor hailed, characters from “hit” movies that haven't yet completed filming, and television “personalities” who wouldn't even be recognized by their neighbors. (And why is it that anyone who's been on a cable show for more than 10 minutes considers himself a latter day Martha Stewart?)
These may be the best of times and the worst of times for licensing. True, retailers are gobbling up exclusive license deals in the quest to differentiate their assortments with a raft of captive brands. But most of these brands promise to be rather short-lived — chewed up and spit out by the thrasher that demands more frequent newness.
If these captives hang around for two or three years, that would constitute a pretty good run. And it's quite possible that for a lot of licensing people, a two-year pop will do. After all, it's a longer run than that 10 minutes on TLC.
Ask yourself this: which captive brands are likely to still occupy shelf space three years from now — Federated's Hotel brand or JCPenney's MTV Cribs?
“Personalities” have a tendency to fade — or to be faddish. Those would-be Marthas should recall that La Stewart built her bridge to consumers outside the realm of retailing, first making herself a true omnimedia star.
Her brand image is so securely fixed in the public mind that even a stint in jail barely tarnished it. Once she shakes off that ankle bracelet, look out.
But, as I said, the licensing business is a world of optimists. At the Licensing International Show in New York later this month, exhibitors will be peddling nearly 6,000 properties, brands and original designs. Some of them we may even have heard of.
And maybe the next jewel is there among them. Maybe the next Lion King has just gone into production. Maybe the new generation Martha has just signed her first book deal. Maybe the next Looney Tunes is on a drawing board.
Where there are optimists, there is hope.
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