A bigger Two Day Summer conference with the world's biggest brands - presenting their Key messages to UK Brand Partners and Major Global Retailers.... I have never seen an audience so attentive for two days.
10th July 22 - The Editor - Brands & Retail Summer Conference - sponsor Fabacus
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It feels as if Brands Retail UK has now cemented itself in the UK Consumer Product Brand and Retail industry - the commitment in making this event work by the biggest Brands, Partners & Retailers through their support and participation is proving the 15 minute format benefits everyone...
I had to implement a very late change of venue from the British Library who had a major power outage in their conference venue which is never ideal when holding a screening event - so we had to move to their sister venue the 'Henry Wellcome Collection Museum' down the road in Euston - for me it was a relief we didn't have to move the dates of the Summer conference at short notice and behind the scenes there weren't any issues.
I stood on stage on the first day and greeted the 150 key executives in our industry reading out the stats that 96% of the audience who had attended the Winter conference on the 24th February had returned four months later to the Summer conference so I must be doing something right.
The format for the Winter and Summer Brands Retail conferences are now set and getting constructive feedback from the audience as we went along I can now tweak slightly for 2023.
It became apparent quickly that the two stand alone days for character and brands wasn't really needed as the majority of the audience (especially the Brand Partners and Manufacturers) were attending both days.
So in my opening presentation I informed the audience that Winter 23 and going forward we will have three 30 minute slots on each day and these would be offered to the larger media companies that have numerous IP's with the rest as 15 minute slots.
I had a lot of thumbs up from the audience when I made that announcement.
The guests started to arrive on Day one which is always a relief when you put on an event.
I noticed during the registration coffee break the Brand Partners (which is what I will refer to them now as the word 'licensee' I have felt never made sense) were making notes already on what brands they wanted to see from the itinerary on their lanyards - this was the first sign to me that the event format was set.
I want to thank Paramount for opening up the first Summer conference - a very slick presentation from them who told the audience about the Paramount+ launch. The V&A followed in a small heritage section with the Ashmolean Museum straight after. It was nice to hear a licensee (sorry - Brand Partner) say to me in the lunch break that the huge numbers in visitors these museums have in their gift shops was something (they) weren't aware of.
Next up in the Day One morning session we had the London Electric Vehicle company who make London Taxi's - the presentation I felt opened the eyes of the partners that the London Taxi is an iconic image and when presented with the design samples for merchandise next to the international visitors numbers London has it made them think. GTL their agent seemed delighted with the format as well.
To end the Day one morning session Pink Key presented their FMCG slate which included Pringles, Peperami, Vimto and Quorn. Richard Pink the owner even made a joke about the FMCG section being before lunch to make you even hungrier. One stand out was 'Quorn' which Richard said fits the sustainability trends and meat alternatives - I felt that stood out.
We had a very special guest called Dash come to lunch. Dash is the Battersea Dog's and Cats home TV mascot and he had a lot of offers of sandwiches from the audience who came to say hello. Battersea was my charity of the year for the conference - although I see them now as a lifestyle brand and their product range and innovative designs from their presentation really cemented they are a lifestyle brand with huge global reach.
The dedicated art section followed and we had Lucia Heffernan represented by Lisle Licensing, Etta Vee and Bouffants & Broken Hearts represented by Start Licensing. Three great female artists from around the world and three great presentations highlighting that the art sector of consumer products is well worth a look if you are a brand partner or retailer.
To close the mid morning art section of Day one Mighty Jaxx took to the stage to show the audience their incredible ranges. They create some awesome alternative toys and seeing the line-up of partners such as Hasbro and Nickelodeon it is a design studio worth checking out.
In the afternoon session of Day One I read a statement from TeamGB that they weren't ready to present their plans they had for the Paris 24 Olympics - I could see there was relief that TeamGB would be opening the Winter January 23 conference and would be ready to work with new partners. You heard that here first....
Lastly the great new consumer products team at The Football Association closed the seminars for us with a thought provoking sizzle on the women's game - one of the most empowering pieces of content I have seen for a long while.
...and to finish a wonderful opening day and to close Day One we had Julia Redman from the Buyers Eye who writes articles for us moderating a panel of esteemed Retail Buyers - Ruth Golightly of ASDA, John Carolan of Boots, Karen Hewitt of Character.com and Helen Riley of ebay.
You could hear a pin drop during the panel - I won't go into details but some of the questions from the audience were thought provoking. I am working on the next Brands & Retail UK Retail Buyers panel which will be very VIP so watch this space...
I ducked out of the after conference Pub (the new Hand and Flower) pretty early on Day One as Day Two was even longer - Acamar Films kicked off Day Two and told the audience their plans for content distribution building on their wonderful IP 'Bing'.
I was relieved Jon Spalding Mattel's new head of Consumer Products arrived - we hadn't met before so he followed Acamar and told the audience of his plans and Mattel's slate for the coming year.
Paramount took their second 15 minute slot of the conference and focused on their huge character IP's - with some special announcements as well which sadly I can't write about as even I am under NDA!.
MGAE then arrived on stage and did some cool dance moves - I loved how everyones take on the conference in how and what they wanted to present were all different. MGA thought outside of the box and that is what makes a great conference.
Next up we had Warhammer - the figures in fanbase for Warhammer always astounds me - and I do love how they market themselves as the brand that everyone knows about but how no one really knows how big it really is... it is huge!.
Boat Rocker also presented and they were very late sign-ups so I was delighted their presentation sizzle was slick and they delivered a great set of figures for their lovely global show Dino Ranch.
To end the morning session we had Jazwares present their huge collectible range 'Squishmallows'. When you start to see the audience figures for these brands on social media around the world you get to see the potential for spin-off merchandise.
We had a very late cancellation from Penguin Ventures due to illness so I am pleased they will be presenting in the January 23 Winter conference.
Uplift games who I predict wasn't on too many peoples radar presented their IP 'Adopt Me' which uses the Roblox platform. Just the size of fans behind the IP warrants the Brand Partners discussing deals - Richard Haines has stepped into the role and I feel they have someone who can build Uplift into the Consumer Product sector.
Next up we had international visitors come over from Spain for the next presentation - Planeta Junior who distribute the lovely Milo pre-school show by Fourth Wall and represented by Lisle in the UK gave a great presentation. I'm hoping Planeta come back and talking to them at the Buyers party later that evening I think that might be the case.
To end the lunch sessions we had two cheeky presenters from PMS International present their very cheeky prank themed brand 'Elves Behavin' Badly' - a perfect brand for Christmas and looking at the size in sales for these Elves I see deals for spin offs coming down the line.
The last session - Lisle Licensing presented the lovely Rainbow brand 'Pinocchio' - a very slick 3D IP and with huge global viewing figures. It is great to see such an iconic heritage brand updated for the next generation by Rainbow in Italy.
Retail Monster presented quite a few brands in their 30 minute slot - including Crayola but also some new IP's as well such as Karma's World by my good friends over in Canada - 9story entertainment.
Silvergate Media which is a powerhouse of content making told the audience about their plans and highlighted some IP's they had already in the market such as Octonauts.
And to close what was a wonderful two days of presentations SEGA came and told us plans for Sonic and with some bonus announcements as well. SEGA confirmed to me they are coming back in January 23 so we can't wait to hear more on their movie franchise for Sonic.
I had always wanted to say 'and now a word from our sponsor' on stage - and got that opportunity at the end - Jonathan Baker of Fabacus delivered their message of what Fabacus as a pioneering retail focused tech company can do.
I am very grateful Fabacus supported Brands & Retail UK in it's first year. It did help get the conference out of it's first year and help it move it into year two. I couldn't of asked for better sponsors and supporters. Thank you Andrew Xeni CEO of Fabacus.
The seminars were completed and we headed down to the British Library for the NEW 'Meet the Buyers' networking party. I wanted to keep it simple and so did the retailers - no one ever likes being told who to meet and I have always stepped back from that and always let events evolve organically.
To indicate to the retailers that they should wrap up conversations I rang a bell, which made quite a few of them jump - we then watched a new group of people pitch their business at the Retailers booths. It became apparent the fun ten minutes change idea was working because I kept getting asked by people if they could ring the bell... and I kept getting thumbs up from the Retailers as well.
The fun element meant it wasn't too serious and I know Retailers loved me for that. I think we have a good side-event now for Brands Retail UK and one everyone will want to come along to - I'm thinking I should do more of these as a stand alone... we will see.
And so I close the first Summer conference - we will be back in London in the bleak January Winter (18th and 19th) but something to look forward to - I am now working on the next Summer conference which will take place in Brighton - I think I have probably sold all the slots for that already as that was a very popular pitch to the brands - so put the 28th and 29th June in your diaries, and watch this space for more details.
I'm off for a lie-down now.... Thanks to everyone who came and thank you to everyone who supported - especially my good friends at Fabacus.
Oh and if you are reading this take five seconds to sign up to the mailing list on the home page - word of mouth is really growing the event and we will keep the momentum going from now and till January 23.
Ryan Beaird - Event Director - Brands Retail UK
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