Media Brands Practice What They Preach

Observations From the Licensing International Expo: Day Two

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LAS VEGAS ( -- Media and entertainment brands have always been among the biggest and most sophisticated licensors at the Licensing International Expo. This year is no different. To name just a few examples, Fox is promoting its hit "Glee," among others, while FremantleMedia is aggressively pushing "American Idol" and "The X-Factor."

But perhaps more interesting is that many media properties have started to license their own brands in addition to their programs and franchises. This trend has been gaining traction over the past several years as media companies have come to the realization that consumers can and do associate their favorite TV and magazine brands with certain lifestyle or product categories.

Brands such as Better Homes and Gardens, USA Today, The New York Times and CNBC, to name a few, have already had success with a wide variety of brand extensions. In fact, the Food Network won "best corporate brand program" at last night's International Licensing Excellence Awards event.

As media brands continue to look for ways to increase their relevancy and revenue while counteracting shrinking viewership, plummeting subscriptions and anemic advertising dollars, more and more are turning to licensing to help tide them over until the media economy rebounds.

Media properties that are first-year exhibitors at this year's show include Hachette Filipacchi's Car and Driver and Road & Track; The Military Channel; Discovery Health; HGTV; DIY; Conde Nast's Self and Golf Digest.

Among examples of the other interesting media brand extensions people are talking about:

  • The Wall Street Journal has partnered with Advanced Travel Center to launch a new travel service for consumers.
  • Hearst Brand Development teamed up with Galison to launch a line of Good Housekeeping-inspired stationery, featuring vintage cover art, and is launching Esquire Home, a new furnishings line based on the men's magazine, this fall at retail.

  • Lagardère Active and Kohl's have entered into a multi-year licensing deal to expand the retailer's Elle-branded lifestyle products into a range of home décor inspired by its sister publication Elle Décor.

  • Earlier this year, Serta launched a line of eco-conscious mattresses under the HGTV Green Home brand (disclosure: HGTV is a Beanstalk client).

    At last year's show, I highlighted the trend of buying dead or dormant brands in order to relaunch them as licenses. The biggest successes to date have probably been The Sharper Image, which is exhibiting for the first time this year, and Polaroid, which named Lady Gaga its creative director earlier this year. Last year's successes were all corporate brands.

    Now the trend of buying brands (both living and dormant) in order to convert or manage them as licenses moved into the entertainment space. The recent creation of Saban Brands to manage the Power Rangers brand, among others, as well as Iconix Brand Group's acquisition of the Peanuts brand, are exciting examples. I expect this trend to continue, with new players emerging.

    Tomorrow, I will wrap up the show.

    ~ ~ ~
    Michael Stone is the president-CEO of Beanstalk, an Omnicom Group-owned global brand licensing consultancy.

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