The world’s leading licensors have gathered at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) for the 14th Hong Kong International Licensing Show and fifth Asian Licensing Conference which opened today. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), the twin events explore partnership and licensing opportunities in Asia, and especially the Chinese mainland.
Among the international brands taking part in the International Licensing Show (11-13 January) are BBC Worldwide, Chelsea Football Club, Hasbro, Hearst Magazines International, Sanrio, The Palace Museum in Beijing, The Wiggles, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Ali-the-Fox. This year, the show features a record number of more than 340 exhibitors from 15 countries and regions, showcasing more than 860 brands and properties across such categories as animation and edutainment, art and design, fashion and lifestyle, and food and beverage.
HKTDC Executive Director Margaret Fong said the global licensing industry is valued at more than US$158 billion, with Asia accounting for 12.2 per cent of the global market and the Chinese mainland being the main driving force of such sales. She also noted that Asia is not only a key market for licensing, but also the origin of dynamic and indigenous brands developed by the region’s young creative talents and backed by strong local government support, as evidenced by the strong Asian participation at the International Licensing Show.
Ms Fong also pointed out that Hong Kong, with its strategic location, robust protection of intellectual property (IP) rights, an independent legal system, deep and broad pool of IP professionals as well as close business links with the Chinese mainland and the rest of the region, is the best place from which to tap into licensing opportunities in Asia, and especially the mainland.
Licensing is a type of intellectual property trading. The HKTDC supports and promotes IP trading, including by developing and enhancing the Asia IP Exchange (AsiaIPEX), a free online intellectual property trading platform and database. The Character Brand Licensing Association (CBLA), organiser of the Japan Pavilion at the Licensing Show, this morning (11 January) formed a strategic partnership with the HKTDC to foster IP trading between Hong Kong and Japan through the AsiaIPEX.
Besides the Japan Pavilion, other international pavilions include those from the mainland, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and the United Kingdom, which together enrich the show with more region-specific content.
China’s Ministry of Culture brings a large delegation
China’s Ministry of Culture is leading a delegation of more than 60 companies, including over 30 from Guangdong, Zhejiang and Szechuan, making the Chinese mainland pavilion the largest in the Licensing Show’s history. Among the key enterprises and organisations are The Palace Museum, Beijing Dream Castle Culture Co. Ltd with its brand Ali-the-Fox and the animation enterprise Zhejiang Zhongnan Animation Co.
Dynamic prospects for lifestyle sectors
Among the wide range of licensing categories spotlighted are character, animation, edutainment, art and culture, fashion and lifestyle as well as the newly added food and beverage licensing category.
The Art and Culture Licensing category features well-known brands showcasing their properties and merchandise, including The Palace Museum (China), National Museum of History (Taiwan), Van Gogh Museum (Netherlands), ink colour paintings by Master Lam Tian Xing and three Japanese manga culture museums, namely The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum, Kawasaki City Fujiko F. Fujio Museum and the Anpanman Museum.
Under the Fashion & Lifestyle Licensing category, classic and stylish brands such as Smiley, Ducati, Paris Saint-Germain FC, AC Milan, Chelsea Football Club, FC Barcelona and Manchester City Football Club are on display. The “Harper’s Bazaar Lounge”, sponsored by Hearst Magazines in the Chancellor Room of the newly expanded show venue, offers a taste of lifestyle licensing. Also, The Royal Touch created by Carolyn Robb, former Executive Chef to Prince Charles and Princess Diana and world-famous food critic, has joined hands with Dining Plus, a premier business food and beverage platform, to present Food and Beverage Licensing.
Hong Kong Creative Gallery, promoting home-grown creativity, returns with around 60 original characters created by young Hong Kong designers and illustrators. Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department presents cross-over merchandise from Hong Kong museums and local designers under the theme “Bring Me Home – the Story of Hong Kong Culture, Art & Design”. Hong Kong Creative Gallery also features award-winning brands from the inaugural Hong Kong Licensing Awards 2015, organised by the Asian Licensing Association.
Business matching sessions foster collaboration
The HKTDC has organised 63 delegations, welcoming more than 1,000 business representatives from some 20 countries and regions to participate in the Licensing Show. To connect more buyers with exhibitors, a dedicated business matching session is organised in collaboration with Hong Kong’s industry associations (Federation of Hong Kong Brands, the Hong Kong Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, Hong Kong Apparel Society, the Hong Kong Exporters’ Association, Hong Kong Watch Manufacturers Association Limited, Hong Kong Toys Council, the Federation of Hong Kong Watch Trades & Industries Ltd, Hong Kong Retail Management Association and Hong Kong Publishing Federation) covering sectors including toys, garment, watch and clock, publishing, retail and travel. More than 500 business matching meetings will be arranged at the fairground to create more business opportunities for the show’s participants.
Interactive events generate business exchange
The Licensing Show includes interactive events to create more business matching opportunities for visitors. The ink colour painting Master Lam Tian Xing presented art demonstrations today during the show. Activities tomorrow include “Kumamon Exercise” organised by Kumamoto Prefectural Government of Japan, a presentation by actor Jim Chim entitled “Jim Chim x PLAYCORNER x dr jim jim: Reaching out to the world of licensing”, “Junior Chef Go! Go! Go!” delivered by Dining Plus as well as a series of activities presented by Warner Bros.
Asian Licensing Conference explores opportunities in the region
Held alongside the Licensing Show, the Asian Licensing Conference (11-12 January) welcomes more than 30 global licensing experts to speak at the conference. During this morning’s plenary session, Maura Regan, Sesame Workshop’s Senior Vice President & General Manager of International Media Business, spoke about the company’s strategic collaborations with mainland broadcasters and top digital platforms in expanding to Asia, in particular the Chinese mainland market. Another speaker Shinichi Murata, Vice Governor of Kumamoto Prefectural Government Japan, demonstrated how the Japanese prefecture uses the licenses of Kumamon to promote Kumamoto’s tourism and culture. Senior executives from BBC Worldwide and Michelin Lifestyle also discussed licensing opportunities and their corporate strategies in Asia.
Meanwhile, three Breakout Sessions today explored brand extension through licensing in areas of “entertainment and new media”, “fashion, lifestyle and branded services” as well as “art, culture and tourism”. Speakers included representatives from Disney, Harley Davidson, Hearst Magazines, Kodak Worldwide, Taiwan’s Jimmy S.P.A., The British Library, The Palace Museum, The Wiggles and Tezuka Productions.
The main theme of the conference tomorrow will be the Chinese mainland market, with senior executives from Hasbro, JD.com, Guangzhou’s HccartoonAnimationTechnology (GZ) Company Limited and Alpha Animation Brand Management Company Limited discussing how licensing can help companies tap into the mainland market. Two workshops will introduce the basics of licensing and hear from experts on legal and intellectual property (IP) issues related to licensing. The Intellectual Property Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government is a strategic partner of the IP and legal workshop.
Concurrent events add new business dimension
Taking place in parallel with the Licensing Show and the Asian Licensing Conference are the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair, Hong Kong Baby Products Fair and Hong Kong International Stationery Fair. Together these events, which each have significant licensing elements, will generate new business opportunities and attract more industry professionals and buyers to the fairs.