As trade shows across all industries look for ways to stay relevant during the Covid-19 pandemic, Informa Markets’ Global Licensing Group, organizer of Licensing Expo in Las Vegas, has canceled the live version of its London-based Brand Licensing Europe trade show, scheduled for October. Instead, it is launching a global, month-long, virtual Festival of Licensing from October 6-29, 2020, in partnership with Licensing International, the trade association for the global licensing business.
While trade events are allowed in the U.K. starting in October, the decision was made to cancel the physical version of BLE due to travel restrictions and other factors. The show typically connects more than 260 exhibitors with 8,000-plus attendees, including a strong contingent of British and European publishers.
“What is for sure is that the physical events will come back,” said Anna Knight v-p of GLG, which oversees several licensing shows around the world. “What we learn from the Festival of Licensing will pave the way for digital offerings going forward. But this is not a replacement for the live shows.”
The Festival of Licensing builds on insights gained from GLG’s week-long Licensing Week Virtual in June, a replacement for Licensing Expo 2020. It will consist of three two- to three-day regional events in successive weeks, followed by a virtual version of the Licensing Leadership Summit, a high-level virtual conference originally scheduled for March 2020, then November 2020, in New York. Week 1, October 6-8, will focus on Europe, BLE’s home turf; Week 2, October 14-15, will center on Asia, where GLG runs Licensing Expo China and Licensing Expo Japan; and Week 3, October 20-22, will revolve around North America and Latin America. The Licensing Leadership Summit will be held October 28-29.
Licensing executives from around the world can register for any of the regional events, and cross-border networking is encouraged. That said, about 85% of the projected 15,000 attendees across the four weeks are expected to be focused on their own regional events, and live components will be tailored to each region’s time zone.
About 85% of the content, selected by GLG and Licensing International, will also be region-specific. All told, the event will include more than 100 hours of live and on-demand content, as well as exclusive retailer-only programming. Up to 300 licensors and agents, regional and global, will have digital “booths,” a matchmaking service will facilitate pre-scheduled video meetings, and a chat feature will allow spontaneous communication. There will also be live experiences and entertainment in the evenings, along with business mentoring opportunities, well-being workshops, and a global charity fundraiser.