BLE promotes sustainability

Brands with purpose focus as POC café uses recycled materials at 2022 licensing show


A packed programme at Brand Licensing Europe will shine the spotlight on sustainability, diversity, equality and inclusion, with its first keynote session focused on brands with purpose.

“Through partnerships with Products Of Change (POC), Licensing International, Black Lives Matter Licensing as well as Junk Kouture and many more brands, all aspects of the day three programme will aim to educate, inspire and invite action within the brand licensing community,” said Anna Knight, senior vice-president of licensing for show organiser Informa Markets.

Above: Products Of Change and Junk Kouture have a fashion show
Above: Products Of Change and Junk Kouture have a fashion show

BLE, the leading European event for licensing and brand extension, takes place over 20-22 September 2022 at ExCeL London, plus online follow-up on September 26-28, with online registration now open, and more than 180 exhibiting companies will be attending.

This year, there is a BLE & POC Sustainability Café which will recycle materials from last year’s Sustainability Activation event, and showcase sustainable consumer products and fashion lines from 12 brands, including Primark, Eden, Wastebuster, Smiley, Wow Stuff & RSPB, Hasbro & Asda, Smurfs & Pure Top Table, and Discovery.

Anna added: “As consumers continue to expect more from the brands they love and the products they buy, it’s essential that we provide a platform as organisers to inspire, share ideas and educate, which is why we’ve framed the last day of the event around driving purpose and change. There is so much great innovation going on in this space, it’s essential to learn from one another as we strive for a cleaner, better future.”

Above: Day three’s keynote panel of (from left) Kingston Myles, Will Stewart, Nicolas Loufrani, and Helena Mansell-Stopher
Above: Day three’s keynote panel of (from left) Kingston Myles, Will Stewart, Nicolas Loufrani, and Helena Mansell-Stopher

Throughout all three days of the show there are sustainability, purpose-driven and DE&I initiatives, including the Products Of Change Lounge for advice, education and best practice on creating, progressing or optimising your business’s sustainability action plan – Belly Button Designs, Carousel Calendars, Cath Tate Cards, Danilo, Hallmark, Into The Green Publishing, Talking Tables, and Amscan are among POC’s committed members.

POC founder Helen Mansell-Stopher, editor and community manager Rob Hutchins and their team of ambassadors will run sustainability clinics open to all attendees as well as member meet-ups.

Saphia Maxamed and the Black Lives Matter Licensing team will be available for pre-arranged and drop-in meetings for visitors to learn more about how they amplify Black voices across the consumer products sector while generating revenue to benefit the Black community.

BLE 22 is supporting Ukrainian businesses by offered free exhibiting space to companies, including Ukrainian Association Of Football and ReadyMadeLicense, looking to continue their work within the licensing industry.

Above: Black Lives Matter Movement fashion collections
Above: Black Lives Matter Movement fashion collections

The Wellness Lounge returns for attendees to enjoy some quiet space to work or take a break from the show floor, and there is a discount for charitable and non-profit organisations who would like to exhibit at BLE for the first time.

Licensing International’s Diversity & Inclusion Accelerator is a programme providing benefits valued at over $100,000 (£81,700) to under-represented, diverse brand licensing entrepreneurs around the globe to help them build profitable, high-growth companies within the industry. BLE will showcase some of the companies involved in the programme in a dedicated space on the show floor.

Day three of the show, Thursday, 22 September, will has timed events on the sustainability theme:

9.30-10am Sustainability case study with Hasbro, License Global Theatre – presented by Catrina O’Brien, Hasbro head of Retail EurAsia licensing consumer products, and POC’s Helena Mansell-Stopher.

10-10.15am Culture & Unity Catwalk featuring Black Lives Matter Movement fashion collections and spotlighting Black-owned businesses looking to break into the licensing industry.

Above: Spotlight on sustainability at BLE
Above: Spotlight on sustainability at BLE

12.30-12.45pm Education and inspiration from Products Of Change on the Sustainability Catwalk centred around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals as a catalyst for change, with a show presenting designs from Junk Kouture’s worldwide competition for 13-18 year olds to embrace the principle of sustainable living creating apparel and couture from recycled materials.

1-1.45pm Keynote Panel Discussion, The Good Fight: How Purpose Breeds Success – a panel of industry change makers will debate how leading with purpose can create a competitive advantage for licensors, retailers and licensees alike. Will Stewart, from ThePoint.1888, will moderate the discussion between The Smiley Company’s Nicolas Loufrani, Paramount’s Veronica Hart, POC’s Helena Mansell-Stopher, and Kingston Myles from English Heritage.

Above: Seedlings Cards & Gifts’ Joe Mercer (right) was a 2021 License This! winner
Above: Seedlings Cards & Gifts’ Joe Mercer (right) was a 2021 License This! winner

There is also the Kelvyn Gardner License This! final from 10.30am-12:20pm on Day Three, where  unlicensed brands will pitch live to the panel of expert judges in the Brand & Design and Character & Animation categories. Entries are free and open until Friday, 26 August.

Greeting cards have historically fared well in the competition – last year’s winners included Joel Mercer, co-owner of Seedlings Cards & Gifts, with his Seedfolk brand. The previous year it was Ginger Betty and Tracey Colliston with her cute Owl’s Nest concept while in 2019 artist Rosie Brooks romped home with her Opera Little brand, designs from which are published on greeting cards by Holy Mackerel.

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