Brand & Licensing Innovation Summits (B&LIS): Anna Knight explains the event

Anna Knight 2020

First European event will run virtually on 9-11 June 2021: all-new Brand & Licensing Innovation Summits will guide industry through changing retail, content and consumer landscapes

Global Licensing Group is launching Brand & Licensing Innovation Summits (B&LIS) in Europe and North America to celebrate the power of brands and brand extension and provide trends and forecasts, retailer insights, spotlights on growth categories and deep dives into digital and content innovation.

Content will be curated by the License Global editorial team and Products of Change and is presented in association with industry trade body Licensing International.

The inaugural B&LIS, focusing on the European market, will premiere as a virtual event on 9-11 June 2021, and each day will spotlight a different topic.

Licensing Italia interviewed Anna Knight, VP of Informa Markets. 

di Maura Rastelli

L.I. Where did the idea for Brand & Licensing Innovation Summits (B&LIS) come from?

A.K. We spent over 90 hours talking to the industry before launching Brand & Licensing Innovation Summit and our research confirmed there is a huge appetite for content that highlights the innovations, insight and future trends that will drive the success of brands and businesses post-pandemic.

In Europe, B&LIS complements Brand Licensing Europe (17-19 November, London). Where BLE focuses on deal-making, networking and trend spotting, B&LIS is a thought-leadership opportunity for the industry to learn from and debate with experts inside and outside the world of licensing. The three-day event (9-11 June, online) has been designed to help middle-management, business leaders and owners to navigate the changing retail, content and consumer landscape through keynotes, panel discussions, roundtables and workshops all providing actionable advice, information, and strategies on the future of brands and licensing.

L.I. What are the main important features of this edition of Brand & Licensing Innovation Summits (B&LIS)?

A.K. Content for B&LIS is curated by the License Global editorial team and Products of Change in association with industry trade body Licensing International. The event as a whole will:

  • Address the latest industry trends and topics and provide actionable, inspiring insight on the future of brands and licensing.
  • Tackle the changes in licensing and facilitating conversation around digital transformation, the rise of sustainability and why and how businesses need to adapt
  • Bring the community to exchange, debate and share trends, insights and challenges

Each day will spotlight a different topic.

  • Day 1: Trends and retail
  • Day 2: CSR and sustainability
  • Day 3: Content and digital transformation

L.I. What are the main focus areas and topics that will be discussed?

A.K. We are discussing topics that impact brands, manufacturers and retailers from inside and outside the licensing industry, and they will follow the themes on each day. You can view the entire agenda online now at

Day one – Trends and Retail

On day one – Trends and Retail – the IKEA Group chairman will provide the opening keynote: Innovate, Adapt, Disrupt: In Conversation with Lars-Johan Jarnheimer. Part fireside chat, part live audience Q&A, B&LIS delegates will have an exclusive opportunity to quiz a C-Suite leader at one of the world’s most successful, innovative, and well-loved retailers.

Other topics on opening day include the changing priorities of Gen Alpha, Gen Z and millennial consumers, the future of licensing in retail and vice versa, how to bring the instore experience to life, and the role of licensed products in online retail strategies.

Day two – CSR and Sustainability

One day two our focus is CSR and Sustainability after our research showed that – in Europe, particularly – sustainability is a leading the agenda. We have a brilliant joint keynote – Why the Future will be Blue. How to Become an Agent of Change? – presented by senior executives from United Nations Regional Information Centre (UNRIC) and the Smurfs who’ll be talking about the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the importance of collaborations in educating people all over the world about the importance of adopting sustainable values and habits for the sake of the planet.

BBC Studios’ Senior Licensing & Global Sustainability Manager Anita Majhu, Nutmeg Licensing’s June Kirkwood, Natural History Museum’s Max Lister and SGLP’s Simon Gresswell will all take part in the second day discussing the importance of sustainability, change and action within – and outside – our industry.

Day 3 – Content and Digital Transformation

The summit’s third day takes a deep dive into Content and Digital Transformation. Our newly announced headliner is Ankat Mangal from ecomm success story Wayfair, one of the world’s biggest homeware ecommerce platforms with 31 million active customers. During this keynote, B&LIS delegates will learn how brands can launch their products effectively online, get the right exposure from day one and continue to optimise advertising strategies to gain market share by category.

Day three will also touch on the cinematic streaming hybrid, working with influencers, winning at social media, esports and gaming with panellists including John Friend, head of Halo and Xbox consumer products, Difuzed’s Dan Amos and Scott Macrae, Asda’s new business and partnerships manager discussing Why Gaming and Esports is Dominating the Entertainment Leaderboard.

L.I. What will brand owners/retailers/manufacturers learn from being at B&LIS?

A.K. Everyone will learn how to best navigate the future of retail, the future of content – in all its forms, be that where it originates, how it’s disseminated, how digital already has and is making huge differences to the way we consume and sell content – and a greater understanding of what the consumer wants and how we tap into that.

Brands specifically will discover how to make themselves more relevant and how to connect to their consumer base. Manufacturers will learn how to pinpoint the best categories to go after. And retailers will get a much greater understanding of just how varied licensing is and, if you really want to drive a differentiator – bring people back into store or create a more engaging online experience – how licensing is a great way to do that.

Delegates from Aldi, Aykroyd & Sons, Amazon, Asda, Blue’s Clothing, Character World, Chupa Chups, DC Thomson Media, Dreamtex, EMP Merchandising, General Mills, Hachette, HTI Toys, Jaz Toys, Popgear, Primark, Simba Dickie, Tesco, Walt Disney Company, Beanstalk, The Entertainer, Unilever, ViacomCBS and Schwager & Steinlein Verlag have already registered to attend B&LIS.

Three-day passes, which include access to 30+ live sessions, networking with over 200 delegates and on-demand contact until 30 June, cost just £249 (£224 for Licensing International members).


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