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The Q2/2020 edition of Halo Licensing Survey, with its 272 cases compiled and dissected, contains plenty of clues to how brands, retailers and shoppers felt about licensed products during the global emergency.
Like most things, licensing went underground during the opening weeks of the quarter. But even as general activity began to pick up from mid-May, licensing remained at a low ebb throughout.
Comforting words from licensing industry voices provided assurance about consumers’ yearning for familiarity and nostalgia in tough times, but in reality the market appeared disinterested in anything that was an obvious commercial play in times dominated by Covid-19 and racial justice.
Despite this, the report shows there was still space for thoughtfully designed products with a strong storytelling component: especially properties with a narrative that dovetails with holidays like Earth Day, 4:20 and Pride Month. Intellectual properties like Peanuts, The Lorax and Tom of Finland helped brands cultivate a compassionate image through remarkable products.
Art, Brands, Character and Anime properties provided the main thrust, with more than half of all cases recorded last quarter originating in these verticals. Pokémon and Evangelion were particularly strong, as was Smiley World. The Grateful Dead was an outlier, but once again demonstrated its powerful cultural connectiveness.
Predictably, sports and cinema properties fared significantly worse than usual, with eSports stepping in to help fill the void with a cluster of inventive and unorthodox programmes. Causes also received high prominence last quarter, but typically as beneficiaries rather than active campaign participants.
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