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The American Bar Association is Raising the Bar on Brand Extension Licensing image

The American Bar Association is Raising the Bar on Brand Extension Licensing

by Michael Stone, Chairman & Co-Founder, Beanstalk and 2019 Licensing Hall of Fame inductee

The American Bar Association (ABA) contributes so much not only to the legal profession and its rigorous standards, but also to society. The ABA is part of the backbone of professional ethics and jurisprudence for the legal community.

And, personally, I am particularly grateful to the ABA, not just because of my background as an attorney, but because of its recognition and exploration of the discipline of trademark licensing, to which I have dedicated most of my career as a co-founder (now Chairman) of Beanstalk. I’m delighted that the ABA is devoting significant attention and air time to the role of brand licensing as an effective digital-age marketing strategy about which attorneys, as well as marketing professionals, should be informed and educated (and, of course, the legal dimensions as well).

The ABA imprint Ankerwycke published my book, The Power of Licensing: Harnessing Brand Equity. And now they have invited me to host a five-part webinar series on brand extension licensing as part of the ABA’s Continuing Legal Education program. The webinars are open to both ABA members and non-members.

Here is what I’ll address in the webinar series:

In the first webinar (Wednesday, October 30, 2019), I will look at how brand licensing fits into the larger retail and marketing communications strategy of companies that use licensing, and why it presents new opportunities for brands and marketers in today’s information-overloaded marketing communications ecosystem. Seven benefits of licensing will be examined with illustrative examples. I will also identify risks that come with brand licensing – e.g., licensed product failure, cannibalizing the core product, counterfeits, etc. – and how to mitigate them.

In Webinar 2 (Wednesday, November 20, 2019), I will explore celebrity licensing. Using the examples of Kathy Ireland and Drew Barrymore, I will unpack how some celebrities have achieved true brand status through licensing. I’ll cover do’s and don’ts; celebrity, consumer and retailer motivations; and digital celebrities. This analysis should also be instructive for existing brands and new brands, not just celebrities, seeking growth and expanded consumer awareness through licensing. There’s a lot that brands can learn from the licensing journeys of celebrities.

Webinar 3 (Wednesday, December 11, 2019) is about dead brands and the business of resurrecting them. Dead brands – gone from the marketplace but often not from our memories – can make a comeback, often through licensing, and often with significant business success. I’ll look at what needs to be in place – there are eight elements – for a brand to successfully come back from the dead. Some of the examples I’ll use are The Sharper Image, Polaroid, Toys ‘R’ Us and Nuprin.

Acknowledging that it’s a big world out there, Webinar 4 (Wednesday, January 22, 2020) will take a tour through brand licensing outside the U.S. Interestingly, some U.S. brands are more successful licensing their intellectual property in foreign countries than at home. And many brand owners who are successful in the U.S. look to extend their brands – indeed, often establish them – internationally via licensing. I’ll look at what has worked and what hasn’t in international licensing, and where there are opportunities and potential pitfalls. I will also review the ten considerations that can help a licensor understand international markets and develop a successful non-domestic licensing program, with many examples.

I will finish up the series in Webinar 5 (February, date TBD) with the future – and how we’ll be delivering brand messages with licensing. I’ll focus on subjects like targeted versus broad-reach marketing, “entangling” with consumers, strategies that will need to be activated to reach Gen Z in particular, as well as other generations, online messaging strategies and where experiential marketing may be going. And I’ll look closely at two important new categories that are ripe for licensing: cannabis and eSports.

To state it again, I’m grateful to the ABA for the opportunity to deliver these messages about what is one of the most effective brand messaging tools available to marketers – licensing. I hope that you will join me for one, more or all of the webinar sessions.

Michael Stone’s webinar series with the American Bar Association will kick off Wednesday, October 30 and is open to both ABA members ($40 per webinar) and non-members ($150 per webinar). Here’s an outline of the full series. Click here to register for Webinar 1 now.

  • The Benefits of Licensing and Understanding and Mitigating Risks – Wednesday, October 30, 2019
  • Celebrity Licensing – Wednesday, November 20, 2019
  • Dead or Alive? Bringing Brands Back to Life – Wednesday, December 11, 2019
  • Brand Licensing Outside the United States: It’s a Big World Out There – Wednesday, January 22, 2020
  • The Future of Licensing: Delivering the Brand Message – February,  Date TBD

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