A Fresh Perspective on Licensing | Lauren DeLapa, IMC Licensing

The Brand Licensing Podcast

September 9, 2020

On the latest installment of The Brand Licensing Podcast, we’re sitting down with Lauren DeLapa from IMC Licensing. As an Associate Account Manager, Lauren joined the ranks of our Client Services team in 2019.

Listen in as Lauren shares her fresh perspective on licensing and what she’s learned since entering the industry. 

Listen to the full episode below, or check us out on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Don’t forget to subscribe!


Episode Transcription

Emily Randles: Hello listeners.  Today we’re talking with Lauren DeLapa with IMC.  Lauren joined the IMC team in December 2019 and is just six months on the job.  We thought it would be good to get her fresh perspective on licensing and what she’s learned so far about the industry.  We’ll also cover how other marketing skills can translate into licensing which will help those of you considering a career in the licensing field, and then finally we’ll dig into other questions she might have for me. Thanks for tuning in and remember to subscribe and check back often for new episodes.  Also, please send us an email if you have any follow-up questions for me or Lauren, or if there is a topic you’d like us to cover. 

Hi Lauren, thanks for joining us today. 

Lauren DeLapa:  Hi Emily, thank you so much for having me.  I’m so excited to be on the Brand Licensing Podcast. 

ER: Yes, yes.  We’re excited to have you as our first visitor and guest speaker.  So now that you’re a seasoned licensing professional with six months on the job, we wanted to get your perspective on brand licensing and what you’ve learned so far.  But before we get started, can you give us a rundown on your resume? 

LD: Sure thing.  So, like you said, I am very new to IMC. I’m only six months on the job right now, but I’ve really been enjoying it so far.  And before my time at IMC I was actually not in licensing, so my background was primarily in marketing and communications in a variety of different roles all across the country and in a variety of organizations, too, from non-profit work to working in a university setting.  I’ve kind of been all across the board and I also have a degree in Communications from the University of Minnesota. So I am fresh into licensing like we talked about earlier, I am only six months into the licensing industry, but really enjoying it so far and excited to talk about my experience. 

ER: Great, thanks.  To date, what has been the thing that has surprised you most learning about licensing? 

LD: Sure. So coming into licensing I had a very fresh perspective and licensing as a whole was so new to me and still is relatively.  So coming in I think the thing that surprised me the most was how surrounded we are by licensing without even knowing it.  So from my perspective being new to licensing, I remember my first week on the job and training and going out and doing retail audits all over. All the Target’s and Walmart’s and Home Depot’s and walking through the aisles and realizing how many products on the shelf were licensed was a shock to my system.  I couldn’t believe it.  Even small things like going down the ice cream aisle you can grab a pint of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream and think you’re buying a product from Reese’s and turns out it was licensed.  It’s insane when you take a step back and look at retail from licensing perspective how many products on shelf are licensed, and, I think from my perspective being new in the industry, it’s exciting to see how far of a reach licensing has, and I’m still surprised to this day how far licensing can go and how innovative product extensions can be. 

ER: Great. No, that’s awesome.  What’s been the most difficult thing you’ve learned about licensing? 

LD: Most difficult thing. So, I think for me I, to provide some context, work in client services for IMC, so a lot of my day to day is dealing with clients and the different agreements that we manage, licensees and licensors both, so when I first started I think one of the challenges that I faced was jumping into programs that had been existing for years before I started IMC. I mean I’m not even a year in yet. So, for me from the Client Services side there was a lot of catching up to do  when it came to understanding agreements from the beginning all the history and context that leads you up to the current day of the agreement. Different products that they’ve had in the past, current products, products that they’re planning to launch in the future.  I mean there’s a lot to a single agreement.  Coming into IMC we have a lot of different clients, a lot of different agreements.  So there was a lot of catch up to do which is exciting when you have a new job and I was excited to learn. But there’s a lot to get a handle on when starting client services.  You really have to jump in head-first.  I think the other side of that, too, one difficult thing we’re starting in client services for the first time is building relationships.  So like I mentioned earlier, we have client relationships that have been going on for years and we have contacts with certain brands that they’ve been talking to the same person in client services at IMC for years, as well. So being able to come in and build new relationships and make it an easy transition for our clients that was really important to me and something that I had to put the initiative in to make sure that was happening and that can be difficult when learning all the ins and outs of a new job, and also making sure that clients aren’t feeling a tumultuous shift as you start in a new world. 

ER: You know relationships are a big part of this industry, and so yea, it does take some time to build those and can be challenging especially right now that face-to-face time is a little bit unheard of in the current period, so just doing everything by phone calls can make it harder to build those relationships. So keep working at it.  So you have a marketing and communications background, but have you been able to use those skills effectively in your licensing role? 

LD: Well I am a big believer in communication being the foundation to everything you do both professionally and personally.  I think strong communication skills get you so far and I 100% found that to be true within licensing.  So for me, like you said, I have the background in communications roles and marketing roles and those things have very much translated into my day to day in licensing specifically and client services and account management.  So when it comes to relationships and getting to know licensees and licensors and building trust with your clients, I think clear communication, concise communication, regular communication it’s so important.  Also being adaptable in how you communicate as well in knowing that one licensee or one client may communicate in a very different way than the next one and the next one. And so being able to have your communication be mendable to different people in different circumstances I found to be a skill that has translated in past jobs and also within licensing.  Then from the marketing perspective I would say licensing definitely requires creative thinking whether that is on the client services side of tackling different problems and trying to solve them in an innovative way or creative way or a way that is perfectly matching the needs of your client.  I mean I know that this is something that is required on the business development side as well, where you have to be a creative thinker when going outside of the box of really innovative product extensions and things of that sort.  So I think a lot of those foundational aspects of really strong communication that is required within the communications role and also the creative side of marketing.  Those are two things that do pop up in licensing, I think, no matter what role you’re in within the licensing industry. 

ER: That’s really helpful. I especially think that would be helpful for those thinking of a career in licensing for the future.  Speaking of that, what advice would you give a new person who is considering licensing for their next role? 

LD: I would say “do it”.  Licensing is the best.  I have so enjoyed my time in licensing.  So I would definitely recommend to take the plunge, but on a more serious note, I would say research.  If you’re interested in licensing or have any inkling that’s something you want to explore, definitely dive in to researching where exactly you would be the best fit.  I think the thing that is really nice about licensing is that you can be on the client services side, you could be on the sales side or the business development side.  There’s a lot of variety to roles just within one licensing agency.  So I think really assessing your skill sets and your strengths and what you want out of a role and a future career.  If you hone in on those specifics, chances are you’ll find a really good fit for yourself within licensing. 

ER: Great, and as you mentioned in your experience, so you have started here with IMC in an agency role. But so what do you like about working as a licensing agent and what do you dislike maybe about working as licensing agent? So when people are considering a licensing role they could also work for a brand in licensing or a manufacturer or licensee in licensing or even work within the industry in a kind of supply or services piece into the licensing industry.  So what is it about the agency life that you like and dislike? 

LD: Sure. So I’ll go ahead and start with my likes first. I would say what I really like about working within the licensing agency and that’s a licensing agent is the variety. I’m definitely the type of person who loves new change, new challenges, new opportunities and so being in licensing you have such an array of clients to work with.  You have a portfolio that is changing and that’s really exciting to me being able to have consistent clients that you’re working with but also have new opportunities come through the door often.  That’s exciting to me. So I think the variety and not just the amount of clients that can come in and how your roster can grow, but also how each agreement can differ and what brand you’re working with, what categories they’re in.  That’s exciting as well. So not only are you getting opportunities that come in often, but you’re also getting variety from agreement to agreement and client to client.  So I find that to be really exciting. And, I would give a bonus like to just the client interaction from the client services perspective.  I know we’ve talked about it earlier, but I really do value the client connection and building relationships and seeing your clients succeed.  I think it’s really rewarding to have that piece in the client services role that I’m in. So bonus point for all the client relationships that we get in in licensing.  

So for dislikes I would say part of my like kind of plays into my dislike.  So the variety is great but part of licensing is the “come and go” nature of clients and agreements where one day you can have an opportunity and it looks great and the next the opportunity cannot be a fit anymore and not be a part of your day to day work, and I think that’s just the licensing industry and that’s something I’ve learned already in my first few months of working at IMC that you know we’re going to have opportunities that come in we’re going to have opportunities that go out and they’re not always going to stick. And I think we’re putting in the work you are really excited for a certain project it might not work out, that will always be a bummer no matter what role you’re in. But in licensing you definitely see shifts that happen and agreements that you think are going to go through and maybe they don’t or a product launch for one of your existing clients that seems really great and ends up not sticking at retail and so you end up having to take a step back and you can put all the work in and maybe you didn’t see that final product or final conclusion that you were hoping for which can be a bummer. But I think at the end of the day the ones that do stick and the ones that go through make it all worth it. 

ER: Great. Yea, those are great examples. So as an industry expert with 14 years of experience in licensing, what questions do you have for me?  So what are you still curious about in terms of executing a licensing deal or managing a licensing program? 

LD: Sure, so what advice would you give yourself at my age and my type of role in my point in my career knowing that you’re President of a licensing agency now, what advice would you pass down to a younger version of yourself? 

ER: That’s a great question because I did start in licensing in my mid-twenties and so I can definitely relate.  I would say a couple of things. One definitely, and you’ve touched on relationships a little bit, but making sure you’re making those strong connections and relationships and building those and fostering them and so when you’re meeting somebody connecting with them on LinkedIn, following up and just keeping those connections as much as possible, because you never know when they’re going to come back and you’re going to need a connection in apparel or a connection in ice cream and so having that resource of LinkedIn and those just touch points would be really helpful.  I would also recommend you know diversifying your experience near a portfolio and just building your own brand so that again the more you build yourself within your licensing career the more valuable you are not only to IMC but to the clients and to others around you. So you know staying focused on your goals and career to grow further within the industry.  And then I think the third thing I would say is just reading and researching as much as possible as to what is going on in the industry so making sure you’re subscribed to industry publications and reading the data and knowing when it comes you know the magazines and publications come out reading them as well.  Really helpful to be knowledgeable and so know when you run into problems you can say “well I saw so and so over here did this maybe we can do something similar” and the clients also really look for examples within the industry that are going on. So if you’re not staying dialed in terms of what’s going on it’s hard to offer that perspective. 

LD: That’s great advice.  I know you can’t see me since this is a podcast, but I’m taking notes. I always appreciate your expertise, Emily. 

ER: Great, great.  Well that’s all we had for today and wanted to just Lauren thank you so much for your time and sharing your insights and perspective as fresh as they are.  I think it’s really great for others to get the perspective of someone new and for someone like myself who is a seasoned person in licensing to hear how it’s shaping your career and influencing the things that you’re working on. So it’s very exciting. 

One final question we have before we sign off is, what’s the craziest or worst licensed product you’ve come across in your career to date? 

LD: Oh man I love this question.  Craziest or worst licensed product.  You know I, if anyone knows me, I am totally obsessed with my dog, Captain, and I’ll talk about him as much as I can and I’ll have to say being a pet parent there are some crazy pet products out there and a lot of them are licensed. So I think the pet channel in licensing is really popping off right now. It is insane the products you can find. 

ER: Lauren, thanks again for your insights and for your time and I can’t wait to see what other crazy pet products you come across, and wish you the best as we continue to work together and grow your career. 

LD: Thank you so much, Emily.  I was so excited to come on the podcast and it was great being able to chat with you. 

IMC Licensing Logo Mark

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    Only a decade ago, it was not easy to use the terms “private label” and “brand” together. But private label…

    Stephen Reily

    October 13, 2014

  • 4 Keys to a Knockout Private Label Program

    Gil Phillips, Vice President of Corporate Brands at Kroger told the Cincinnati Enquirer about their house brand strategy, “We’re not offering…

    IMC Licensing

    October 7, 2014

  • The rise of consumer as chief storyteller – and brands’ new supporting role

    The beginning of the end of storytelling, announced David’s Berkowitz’ piece in Ad Age last week. The end of storytelling? The…

    IMC Licensing

    September 25, 2014

  • Retail development isn’t just about getting into Walmart

    Every business that has ever developed a product dreams of getting on shelf at a Walmart or Home Depot. Big…

    IMC Licensing

    September 18, 2014

  • New channel strategies: Sometimes disruptive innovation is a where, not a what

    Our CEO, Carla Dearing, recently wrote about what makes an innovative product disruptive. Thanks to technology, we assumed for many years that…

    Stephen Reily

    September 4, 2014

  • McDonalds and Starbucks: How Both Get Coffee Pricing Wrong (and Dunkin Doesn’t)

    Kraft Foods recently entered into a license agreement with McDonald’s to deliver McCafé Coffee to a supermarket near you. While…

    Stephen Reily

    September 3, 2014

  • From Budget Friendly to Premium: Will Consumers Buy Into a Premium Priced McCafe?

    I have something I have to get off my chest. I don’t drink coffee. There I said it. I don’t…

    IMC Licensing

    August 24, 2014

  • 5 Top Licensing Trends for Restaurant Brands at Retail: Which Chains Should be in Supermarkets Now?

    Licensing restaurant brands into supermarket products is nothing new.  Brands like Marie Callendar’s (in pies and frozen dinners), TGI Friday’s…

    Stephen Reily

    August 11, 2014

  • Disruptive Innovation: Products That More People Want

    Less is more.  So the theory goes with “disruptive innovation.” A new product is disruptive innovation if it has something…

    IMC Licensing

    July 16, 2014

  • 5 Ways to Evaluate a Potential Licensee

    Licensing a company to expand your trademark into other product categories can be rewarding to your bottom line and strengthen…

    IMC Licensing

    July 15, 2014

  • Consumers Followed Their Noses: How Fragrance Ended Up Everywhere

    Is there any product that doesn’t come in a scented version?  Today you can buy not just scented candles but…

    Stephen Reily

    June 12, 2014

  • The Omni-Product Brand

    For 15 years IMC has been helping the owners of global iconic brands find ways to grow through new products…

    Stephen Reily

    April 3, 2014

  • Backing into Innovation: Capturing New Consumers for Hearing Aids

    While I was at International CES earlier this month I had a chance to meet with leaders of the hearing aid business…

    Stephen Reily

    January 28, 2014

  • Lean In to Cause Marketing?

    When it comes to business, the talented male professional is perceived as “boss” while the talented woman professional in the…

    IMC Licensing

    January 17, 2014

  • CES 2014 – Innovative Partnerships, not Products

    Last week I was one of the 150,000 people swarming around Las Vegas for International CES.  While the show has never…

    Stephen Reily

    January 15, 2014

  • What an Omnichannel World Means for Brand Licensing

    If you want to develop great products that actually sell at retail, you are probably already thinking about how to…

    Stephen Reily

    January 2, 2014

  • Starbucks, Kraft and the $2.7 Billion Divorce

    Last week’s LIMA Bottom Line featured an article I wrote about the recent resolution of a long-running dispute between Starbucks…

    Stephen Reily

    December 23, 2013

  • 7 Most Inspiring Products for Old People are Great New Products for You, Too.

    IMC’s hometown hosted the Louisville Innovation Summit last week  Aging care is a growth industry for Louisville (headquarters for companies like Kindred,…

    Stephen Reily

    November 18, 2013

  • More than Just a Hill of Beans

    Kraft Foods recent announcement of its intent to test market McCafe packaged coffee adds a deep, new wrinkle to the already interesting…

    IMC Licensing

    November 15, 2013

  • Keeping Your Options Open in Licensing

    Licensors with iconic brands often have to make tough choices about extending their brands in new markets through licensing versus…

    IMC Licensing

    November 4, 2013

  • Licensing at Tiffany’s: Not a One-Way Street

    On vacation this summer I needed to get my sunglasses repaired.  While waiting, I was surprised to look in the…

    Stephen Reily

    September 16, 2013

  • What Licensing Agencies Can Do For You: A Tale of Chocolate Cereal

    One of IMC’s most deliciously licensed products is Kellogg’s Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory cereal. The coco-brown box features the names…

    IMC Licensing

    September 4, 2013

  • What does the Local Food Movement mean for Food Licensing?

    In my hometown of Louisville – a city proud of its food culture in a state proud of its farming…

    Stephen Reily

    August 8, 2013

  • Licensing by Litigation: A Bad Business Plan

    Two large-scale lawsuits in the licensing world have recently been stopped by injunctions.  After spending millions of dollars on legal…

    Stephen Reily

    August 1, 2013

  • Paula Deen and Food Licensing: Why Didn’t She have More to Lose?

    Paula Deen, as a brand with great licensing potential, seems almost beyond repair.  While I can imagine strategies that would…

    Stephen Reily

    July 30, 2013

  • What’s Your Innovation Reality?

    What’s Your Innovation Reality? I was recently reviewing some notes from a talk I heard almost two years ago –…

    Stephen Reily

    July 24, 2013

  • Just Married

    Often times we describe a licensing partnership much like a marriage. The Licensee and Licensor meet, are engaged by signing…

    Emily Wickerham Randles

    June 27, 2013

  • Purina Tidy Cats® and Glade™ Tough Odor Solutions: A perfect match

    The partnership between Purina Tidy Cats and Glade Tough Odor Solutions has developed a scented cat litter which has customers…

    IMC Licensing

    June 20, 2013

  • Integrating New Products with Licensed Properties

    Integrating New Products with Licensed Properties Demands on new product development have greatly increased over the last decade with increased…

    IMC Licensing

    June 17, 2013

  • The Humanization Of Our Pets: Key Survey Findings

    The cliche is that pets look like their owners- but will they use the same products? The theory at IMC…

    IMC Licensing

    June 10, 2013

  • What Do Pet Owners Want Next?

    The pet industry is one of our favorites, and not just because most of us at IMC have pets of…

    Stephen Reily

    June 5, 2013

  • Sharing the Love of Brands with Your Pet!

    Pet owners are passionate about their furry little friends and they spend over $50 billion annually to prove it.  They…

    IMC Licensing

    April 4, 2013

  • What Makes Martha Stewart Such a Bad Partner?

    I’ve read lots of articles about Martha Stewart’s recent bout of litigation, but none of them addresses why someone would…

    Stephen Reily

    March 21, 2013

  • 2013 Housewares Show: Forging New Partnerships

    The 2013 International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago is the largest housewares-only fair in the world with 60,000 home goods professionals…

    IMC Licensing

    March 14, 2013

  • A Tale of Two Cracker Barrels

    When I saw that Cracker Barrel, the southern-fried restaurant chain, had recently licensed its brand to John Morrell Group, a…

    Stephen Reily

    February 6, 2013

  • Why Does Licensing Love the Holidays?

    In the licensing world, most royalty payments are made on a quarterly basis. Any licensing professional can immediately tell you…

    IMC Licensing

    December 20, 2012

  • The Slow Death of Commission-Only Deals

    Truly successful brand extensions are the result of pairing leading consumer brands with products that enhance the brand’s reputation and…

    IMC Licensing

    November 26, 2012

  • Why Licensing?

    As advertising as we know it is faced with a rapidly changing environment, brand owners and brand managers are looking…

    IMC Licensing

    November 1, 2012

  • Reinforcing Your Brand Through Licensing

    Some licensed products are very much like the brand’s core product itself. They may be used the same way (like…

    IMC Licensing

    October 15, 2012

  • A Primer on Licensing

    Wherever industry regulars gather, they’re sure to discuss the world’s largest licensor; the world’s citizenry buys more than $23 billion…

    Stephen Reily

    July 27, 2012

  • Working With Licensing Agents and Consultants

    Licensing agencies and consultants can play a central role in the development of an effective licensing program. Whether your company…

    IMC Licensing

    November 22, 2010

  • Why Use an Agency for Licensing?

    Even if your company has an in-house licensing director or staff, there are several reasons to hire a licensing agency…

    IMC Licensing

    May 10, 2010

  • National Brands, Private Label and Licensing

    During a panel discussion about product innovation at the 2009 Grocery Manufacturers Association’s Merchandising, Sales and Marketing Conference, one participant…

    IMC Licensing

    April 15, 2010

  • Licensing 101

    As an agency that develops and manages licensing programs for our clients’ trademarks and brands, we often get asked Why…

    IMC Licensing

    November 8, 2009

  • Retail Strategies Beyond the Top 10

    Every day the list of victims of the faltering economy grows longer.  Circuit City (#32 on National Retail Federation’s, Top…

    IMC Licensing

    September 25, 2009

  • Beyond Royalty Revenue: Measuring ROI from Licensing

    In recent surveys senior marketing professionals say that accountability for marketing services is more important than ever, and that they…

    Stephen Reily

    September 16, 2009

  • Trends in Inbound Licensing

    In the licensing industry, attention is typically focused on strategies to license a brand “out,” extending a brand into new…

    Emily Wickerham Randles

    August 19, 2008

  • The Licensing Professional – Not One Size Fits All

    I cannot count the number of times I have heard companies talk about whether they should hire a “licensing professional”…

    Stephen Reily

    February 19, 2008

  • Licensing Agency Compensation: The Inside Story

    One of the needless mysteries of the licensing industry is the topic of agency compensation.  Although talented professionals neither gain…

    Stephen Reily

    February 19, 2007

  • Food for Thought (on Food and Beverage Licensing)

    Food and beverage licensing is everywhere. A quick trip to the supermarket will produce Nesquik chocolate milk, Oreo ice cream, and…

    IMC Licensing

    August 28, 2006

  • The Bankruptcy Clause: Comforting but Useless

    An experienced reader of license agreements would know exactly where to find what I call the “bankruptcy clause” (about three…

    Stephen Reily

    March 1, 2003

  • When Trademark Licensing looks like Franchising: Avoiding Legal Risk

    If anyone doubted that trademark licensing has become an essential part of brand management, the recent Annual Meeting of the International…

    Stephen Reily

    September 8, 2002

  • The Risks a Licensor Poses to a Licensee: How Can They Be Limited?

    Most form license agreements assume that licensees pose greater threats to licensors than the other way around.  Aside from the…

    Stephen Reily

    August 8, 2002

  • Licensing to Preserve Trademark Ownership

    As all IP counsel know, registration of a trademark depends on that trademark’s use.  A trademark cannot be reserved indefinitely…

    Stephen Reily

    July 9, 2002

  • Trademarks Around the Edges

    Many years ago, companies that made a branded consumer product thought they did only one thing: make that product.  Their…

    Stephen Reily

    March 9, 2002

  • Watch What the Licensor Does, Not What it Says

    Hiring the best trademark counsel – and getting them to draft the best possible license agreement – will not alone…

    Stephen Reily

    March 9, 2002

  • How Accountants Will Change the Face of Trademark Licensing

    As the licensing industry frets about whether the biggest event of the year will be the performance of Harry Potter…

    Stephen Reily

    November 9, 2001

  • License Agreements: Partnerships Worth Getting Right

    Whenever you see a licensor and licensee in litigation with each other you should assume that something has gone wrong…

    Stephen Reily

    September 9, 2001

  • How Many People Does it take to Screw in a Trademark Licensing Agreement

    Because so many brand owners fail to appreciate how important licensing can be for their brand, many of those who…

    Stephen Reily

    August 9, 2001

  • Developing Branded Consumer Products like Consumer Products

    Last month I described how companies find themselves distributing or authorizing branded products that either weaken the protection of their…

    Stephen Reily

    July 14, 2001

  • Why Most Companies Have Too Many Licensors

    If you looked to a corporation’s internal licensing department for evidence of trademark usage and enforcement, as well as development…

    Stephen Reily

    May 20, 2001

  • Licensing Corporate Brands and Trademarks: Knowing What it Should Cost

    As someone who runs a licensing agency for the owners of brands and trademarks, I can be expected to argue…

    Stephen Reily

    February 19, 2001

Services

Licensing is a relationship not merely between brands, but among people. At IMC, we build and nurture both of those relationships while delivering top-notch customer care that treats — and protects — your brand as if it were our own.

About Us

We’re committed to fostering dynamic brand alliances. Often those alliances are born from one brand’s need and another’s ability to meet that need. The IMC team are experts at recognizing and creating those opportunities, but our real expertise is people. Standing side by side, as consultants, partners, peers, and as friends, we’re driven by a singular purpose: creating a smart idea.