The Next Level in Gaming Licensing | Lauren Fields Conlon, Loaded

The Brand Licensing Podcast

December 16, 2020

From Ninja to Shroud, the gaming industry’s top content creators are reaching new levels through licensing. On The Brand Licensing Podcast, we’re taking a closer look at this skyrocketing sector with Loaded’s VP of Licensing and Merchandising, Lauren Fields Conlon. 

Lauren Fields Conlon is a consumer products executive who’s spent the majority of her career in the creator space. She was the second hire at DBP, the products division of Digital Brand Architects, and launched dozens of influencer businesses at Nordstrom, Williams Sonoma, Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and more. In 2019, she made the pivot from traditional influencer business to the streaming space when she joined Loaded, LLC as the head of licensing and merchandising. Today, Lauren helps some of the biggest names in the gaming space launch their merch and licensing business.

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! Welcome to The Brand Licensing Podcast. I’m so excited to talk to you today and to have you on as our guest. So yeah, thanks for joining us. 

Lauren Conlon: Likewise!

ER: Today, we’re speaking with Lauren Conlon. She’s the VP of Licensing and Merchandising at Loaded. And I’m so excited to talk with her about gaming and licensing. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve built my career in licensing. But I, and I’ve heard so much about gaming and how much it’s growing, but I really don’t know much about how deals work. And so I’m very excited to learn from you today, the ins and outs of gaming licensing, and just get your experience on deals. But before we do that, can you give us just a little bit rundown of your background and your resume and kind of a little bit about yourself? 

LC: Yeah, for sure. Actually, before I dive into that, I want to take a step back because sometimes people say gaming licensing and stuff and I want to clearly define what I do. So loaded is a gaming management company. We focus on the creators that are in the gaming space. And when it comes to gaming creators, there are really two different types, right? You have the professional, like “athlete”, like the pro gamers. And then you have the content creators. So we really focus solely on the content creators in the gaming space. And so just that little caveat. Because I think gaming is such a huge industry, right? And a lot of people don’t really realize that there are little details like that that really divide us up. 

But to tell you more about my background, I actually started off in more of the traditional licensing space. My first job was at Brand Central — shout out to Ross Misher; he was a great boss and a great teacher — and I was really working on mostly corporate brands, some pop culture brands, but way more traditional licensed stuff. 

During my time there, I started getting really into bloggers. And this was before Instagram. Like bloggers, you know, you’d go and you’d check out. For me, I was into fashion bloggers. I would go and check out outfit inspo that people I liked posted every day. And I was like, gosh, there has to be some sort of market for this, right? At that point, influencers, bloggers are really starting to become more and more popular. And I mean, I was looking to these women as inspiration for my outfits. I was buying products based on what they were wearing. To me, It just seems like a no brainer to go into a licensing with them. So while I was at Brand Central, I signed Cupcakes and Cashmere, which was a huge win. She, to this day, has a very successful apparel licensed line. We did some home products. I think we did some paper products and stuff. But it was, it was a blast. And it was really a testament, I’d say, to the power of the influencer. And then after Brand Central, I ended up going to NBC Universal. I got a great offer there and I had never really worked on the license or side, so I really wanted to gain some of that experience. And I worked with some really incredibly talented people. A lot of people from Disney. It really set me up for success, I guess you could say, in terms of how to forecast and how to be a true category manager. 

And then from there, I actually got an opportunity to work for Digital Brand Architects and their product division, Digital Brand Products. And that actually came again through my work with Cupcakes and Cashmere. And Emily Schuman, who is Cupcakes, her relationship with Rayna who’s the CEO of DBA. And I really just wanted to get back into the creator space. So I was there for two and a half years. And we really put, created our brands on the map, like Something Navy and all of her fashion line. More, again, Cupcakes and Cashmere, and expanding her into footwear and paper products. And we had really interesting conversations with QVC, with Target, with Williams-Sonoma. Launching programs with all of those people. It was a really exciting time. 

And I think there’s something to be said that’s really cool about the creator space in general. Social media gives people a platform and a voice that traditionally they didn’t have. So there was something really exciting about going into a space and working with these creators who, maybe traditionally, prior to the advent of social media, just didn’t have a voice, didn’t have an audience. So it was really cool to be like part of that and to be working with people who now I’d say were probably more so on the level of a traditional celebrity, but at the time they were still very much so up-and-coming and really, really moving the industry. 

Everything was moving and shaking things for great. I saw a huge white space in the gaming industry and I had been, you know, looking at it for a while. Fun fact: my husband was actually a professional video game player way back in the day. He was like in a World Series of video games. So I had always been on the periphery a little bit of the gaming space. And then an opportunity came with Loaded. And I was so excited that they were really the first management company in the space representing a lot of gaming creators. So I took the job as the Head of Licensing and have been here a little over, or I guess it’s about a year and a half. But yeah, it’s been super exciting working on really cool projects like Ninja and Shroud. We have a lot of really cool and highly talented clients.

ER: So, say more. I know nothing other than that there is gaming and licensing and video games. So when you say a creator, are the people that are creating the games or are they playing the games? Describe that a little bit more for me.

LC: There are multiple streaming platforms for gaming creators. Twitch is probably the most well-known platform for it. And then you have YouTube gaming. You have Facebook gaming. You used to have a platform called Mixer; RIP. But these platforms are all ways for creators to broadcast their content. Sometimes it’s just them talking to their audience. Sometimes it’s them playing games. It just really depends on the creator and their audience and really what their niche is.

ER: How does Loaded as an agency work with those creators? Who are your clients and how is deal structure?

LC: Right. So we’re actually, and I think this is probably a difference between the licensing world and the management world, but I’m always cautious. We’re not an agency. We are a management company, like traditional management. So we work with our creators in a bunch of different ways. I’d say our most core competencies are promotional work. We recently did a really cool partnership with Amazon studios for Borat. And one of our clients, Dr. Lupo, and he interviewed Borat on stream. So that’s one area that we work in. And then we also, you know, licensing what I do, putting together partnerships and collaborations for a lot of our talents. Like Shroud and Logitech was a deal that we came out with a couple of months ago. That was really exciting. And then publisher relationships, this is really our bread and butter working with various game publishers and making sure our talents have the opportunity to play those games first as part of like a promotional strategy. So Cyber Punk’s about to come out on December 10th. I think the publisher comes to us and works with us to put together the right mix of talent to support that game. 

Lastly, we also have a content creation team. So we work on both original content. And then also in an advisory capacity for our talent, as far as creating content, especially on the platforms I mentioned that. Then how to monetize that content on other platforms. That’s a space that we provide a lot of value for the people on our roster.

ER: So the creators are your clients. Are you paid by just fees or do they, or do you get commissions? So typically, licensing is very much commission-driven, as you know. I’m just curious on how that works for the deals.

LC: Yeah. I mean, super traditional, like any other management company. We bring our talent deals. They say, yes, they say out, and then we go ahead and proceed with them. So not anything out of the ordinary, I guess you’d say,

ER: What are some of the types of companies that are coming to you and types of partnerships that you’re doing for your clients?

LC: You know, it varies, I will say. It’s really interesting comparing and contrasting this with my experience at DBA and DBP five years ago. Working with fashion beauty influencers, five, six years ago. You were just starting to get CPG companies interested. You were just starting to get a lot of big players understanding the value. People were shifting ad spend into creators, or really influencers, I guess at that point they were called in a more interesting way. I’d say over the past couple of years, especially with the advent of COVID, you have a lot of people looking at the gaming space in a more serious way and shifting ad spend proportionately. So it’s really cool. I’d say this year, a lot more like CPG-type brands have been getting into the streaming space. You have a lot of these big companies who’ve been supporting, you know, traditional esports for a long time. And that’s frankly, outside my wheelhouse. I don’t really know that space too well. But in the creator space, things are definitely picking up and it’s been really cool to see the amount of growth that we’ve had this year alone.

ER: I really resonate with you at the work that you did with DBA and the influencers. And so that makes a lot of sense for me. And I feel like that’s very female driven, for the most part, demographic and market. Who are your clients speaking to in terms of markets? I guess it would vary probably drastically, but can you give us some examples?

LC: Yeah, it’s really cool.One of the things that really drew me to Loaded and that I still really appreciate gaming. Like you said, I came from a super email-driven space and then went into a space that my preconceived notion was, like, it was just going to be all dudes. And what was cool about Loaded was we have a very diverse roster of super talented people. So every audience is very different. They’re all playing different games. They’re all speaking to different people. So like Shroud, who’s one of our top creators. He’s the biggest FPS, so like, first person shooter creator that we have. And someone like him has a super different audience than Sheika, who’s a newer streamer on our roster. She’s bilingual. She has a more female audience. She’s really interested in the fashion space. You have someone like Jordan Fisher, who’s a Netflix star, right? He’s a traditional actor. He was on Broadway earlier this year. So someone like him is just using his platform in a very different way. So it’s really cool that we get to work with so many different types of people, speaking to different types of audiences. And I also feel like more diverse backgrounds are getting into gaming, especially now that we’re all at home all the time. You have more women, you have more people of color. And as an agency, it’s very important to us that our talent and the way that we work with talent is reflective of how we see the gaming space looking overall.

ER: That’s so interesting. And one question, as you kind of talk through that, that popped up for me is, are these international deals or international audiences? Or is it more regional in terms of US and different, based on where you live?

LC: I’d say it’s a mix of both when it comes to, from like a global perspective. When we look at other markets, Latin America or Europe, especially you have a growing market, right? A lot of the top, when you look at the biggest, like top five people on Twitch, they have audiences all over the world. From my experience, we’re doing deals pretty globally. But yeah, it totally depends on the creator. 

ER: What are some things that people should be looking out for, or considering doing when doing a deal with a creator, a gaming group?

LC: I have to say, like, there are two things that really pop up. If I were on the licensee or retailer side and giving someone advice, if they were interested in getting into gaming creators, I would say the biggest, biggest thing is to make sure that you are aligned with the talent or the agency that you’re working with to make sure you’re aligned on content creation. The amount of times that there has been miscommunication, misunderstandings around what the creators actually are able to do has been way too frequent. Unfortunately, I think a lot of a people come into gaming and they assume that a lot of our creators are similar to a YouTuber. And they just aren’t. They’re very different types of content creators. Someone on our roster is being recorded 12 hours a day. They’re not editing. They’re not creating content in the same way. They’re just very different. So making sure that your goals are aligned around content creation is very key. 

And I’d say the second piece to that is understanding what platforms are going to be key for any sort of program promotion. Some gaming creators are only on Twitch and that’s it. And maybe they have a Twitter account. But making sure you understand how you’re going to promote the product line is really, really important because sometimes they don’t have Instagram, right. In the case that that comes around, what’s the second best platform? And making sure you have the data and analytics to back it up with engagement rates, conversion. Really understanding what’s going to work from a promotional standpoint. 

ER: General best practices in any deal. But I can see where specifically with this that that’s really important. People assuming that they can do things that aren’t, technology-wise, capable of or just not understanding how things work. So that sounds like it would be really important. 

What is one of the best partnerships you’ve worked on or put together – something that you’re just like, wow, that was amazing or perfect?

LC: It’s like picking a favorite child? No, I would say working with Ninja this last year and a half and bringing him to retail was incredibly exciting. He was really like first gaming creator to crossover into the more traditional licensing space. You know, Strat and Logitech Steel, that came out about two months ago. That was super exciting for me, too. We were able to partner basically two Best in Class brands, like Shroud being the number one FPS creator. And then Logitech GE being a premier peripheral brand. And that stuff gets me really excited, bringing together partners with aligning principles. Shroud is the best. And every partnership we bring to the table for him needs to align with that story. So being able to partner the right brands with the right creators is the real secret sauce and the fun stuff for me.

ER: And that kind of leads me into a question about relationships. So we have found with our CPG and more traditional licensing deals that it’s really relationship-driven. Even if you have a great idea, if the companies don’t have an internal alignment and are communicating well, then the product probably isn’t going to be as successful as it could be. So we really, really stress the importance of connecting with your partner and treating them as a partner. And not just as a licensee, that’s writing you a check. And I’m assuming just based on those two examples that you just gave that relationships are probably a pretty important piece of this puzzle as well. Can you speak to that at all? 

LC: Yeah. I’d say relationships, at least for, from my experience, they’ve been kind of everything. Leaving the traditional licensing space and going into influencers at a time when people didn’t really know what that business would look like and how successful it would be there. Definitely some licensees and retailers who took a chance on me and frankly, we built really great businesses together. So luckily through, I’d say, those strong relationships that I had, people were more willing to take risks and to trust me more than someone who just maybe contacted them out of the blue and gave them a cold pitch. But you know, if you’re working with trusted colleagues who’d found success with you in the past, it just makes the process so much easier.

ER: And I imagine your relationships with the content creators as well is really important. So understanding them and understanding where their brand is and where their lines are so that you’re pulling the right partnerships or bringing them the right partnerships. And the right deals is probably also key. 

LC: Yeah. Honestly, from working with our creators, they are the bread and butter of our business. I would have nothing if it wasn’t for the awesome platforms and audiences that they’ve cultivated. And my job, I tell them this all the time: I work for them. I am here to to help them grow their businesses. And to really accentuate the hard work they’ve put in and creating another revenue stream. So that way, they’re not dependent solely on their 12 hours of streaming revenue. How can we turn a profit for them while they sleep? And it’s really cool to work with people, ‘cause you watch their lives change. You watch them grow up. It’s just a really cool relationship to build with them.

ER: Before we go on and tackle the next question, I’m going to pause so we can hear a quick word from our sponsor. 

Today’s episode is sponsored by Brainbase. Brainbase is a technology platform that helps brands manage and monetize their intellectual property. The current platform, Assist, helps brands track their legal contracts, sales, royalties, creative, and product approvals, files, analytics, and so much more. Additionally, they’re working on launching a new service marketplace. Marketplace will allow you to showcase your brand and discover new opportunities from a global network of prospective partners. We useBrainbase Assist program to manage and track licensing programs for our clients. We love the analytics and reporting tools and are excited about the new rule to reporting features. They’re rolling out, check it out. If you’re looking for an online management tool for your program, we’ve linked to their site in our show notes. Now back to our show. 

ER: What’s an area ripe for picking that you, that people aren’t considering for your content creators? And it sounds like you have a great vision for what could be. So I’m really interested to hear what you’re thinking of as the next big thing. 

LC: I think that the gaming licensing space, really gaming creator space; I think we’re a little, maybe a year behind on technology, frankly. I think the future of what gaming creator licensing will be is figuring out how to gave a five product, if that makes sense. So our creators are on a live stream, right? Being able to take that live stream format and making it shoppable in a re-imagined way. Tao Bao does the live stream shopping, but how can we translate that to gaming and make it fun, right? How can we take a chat bot or take a chat and drop a secret product in there? You’re starting to see, like, I know Shopify has been working on some plugins. You’re seeing stuff come out technology-wise but we’re not quite there yet. But I believe once we’re there, it’s going to be a complete game-changer for gaming creators.

ER: I’m an Instagram user, so that’s kind of my main channel for social. When they added that little “shop now” feature where you just swipe up and shop, it was very easy for me to get sucked in and easily make that purchase. As a marketer, that is brilliant. I can imagine that being game-changing in terms of being able to turn ROI for those programs and those influencers.

LC: Yeah, one hundred percent. I mean, I definitely bought products off of Instagram ads. They’re really good at targeting, and I see that being the future for streaming gaming creators. That’s where the audience is. That’s where they’re already subscribing and spending money by following their favorite creators. Having some sort of point of purchase directly on the stream is the logical next step.

ER: You’ve touched on this a little bit, but how has COVID impacted your deals and deal flow?

LC: You know, it’s been interesting. I would say that it’s increased traditional deal flow, for sure. If someone would have told me back in January that I’d be launching over 10 merch stores for creators, I probably would have been like “no way, really?” The pivot has been great, frankly. Our talent has really enjoyed the process. We’re able to sit down and figure out what sort of drop they want and what kind of products they want in the mix. We’re doing a lot more hands-on stuff. Especially before they move into more traditional licensed, it’s good to really understand how a product comes to be has been really valuable.

ER: Do CPG companies come to you and say “I want to do a partnership with one of your creators?”

LC: Yes. I would say that, and this is probably more of a sponsorship conversation. And I don’t handle our sponsorships, but I can speak from a licensing perspective. We have companies reach out to us directly all the time

ER: And vice versa. Then do you also go and come up with an idea and then go solicit a company on behalf of one of your creators?

LC: Yes, we solicit retailers and brands. I always like to tell up-and-coming creators and people we work with — frankly, this is probably good advice for any brand that wants to collab with another brand — that you have an organic connection with them. You’re engaging with them on whatever social platform you want to use, and that’s usually the best vehicle for sparking a conversation around some light type of partnership. We see that happen a lot, too, where it’s just super organic. They have a good working relationship with the brand, and we just take it to the next level.

ER: I know we just talked about technology being a little bit behind and that playing a role in the near future, but where do you see this industry going in the next five to 10 years?

LC: I’ve been a pretty big believer in the long-tail theory. Just in case anyone doesn’t know, it’s this idea that long-term, everything’s going to become smaller and more specialized from a brand perspective. You’re seeing this already with Old Navy’s success over Gap and Aerie doing so well under American Eagle. I think these sub-brands or smaller brands are really where the dollars are going. I think creators are going to continue to grow their businesses and become savvier and own the retail experience for themselves. Especially looking at a year of COVID and a merchant explosion, right? Everyone wants to own their shopping experience. I think COVID has accelerated it to occur before the next five years. But I do think that how we define a small business, especially in the retail space, is going to be driven mostly by creators in the not so distant future.

ER: If people want to find you online or connect with you, what’s the best way to do that? 

LC: I would say that they could follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or just shoot me an email. My email addresses

ER: Great! Well, I think that’s all my questions, and I really better understand what you guys are doing and what these content creators are building. I can’t wait to go check out some of this stuff, and I just really appreciate you doing this today for the podcast. 

LC: Thanks, it was really fun! The gaming creator space is new, but I think in the next couple of years, we’ll see a pretty large shift and people following it a little closer. So, I appreciate the time.

IMC Licensing Logo Mark

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  • The Next Level in Gaming Licensing | Lauren Fields Conlon, Loaded

    From Ninja to Shroud, the gaming industry’s top content creators are reaching new levels through licensing. On The Brand Licensing Podcast, we’re taking a…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    December 16, 2020

  • IMC Licensing’s 2020 Year in Review

    It’s easy to focus on all the craziness when looking back on 2020, but here at IMC, we honed-in on…

    IMC Licensing

    December 14, 2020

  • The Future of Sports Licensing | Terése Whitehead, NFL Players Association

    Get ready for today’s guest on The Brand Licensing Podcast, Terése Whitehead! While Terése is currently keeping score at the…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    November 18, 2020

  • Why Do I Need a Licensing Agency?

    Using a licensing agency versus building a licensing program in-house is similar to a house project – you can take the DIY approach…

    IMC Licensing

    September 21, 2020

  • IMC Licensing Named Top 25 Global Licensing Agent

    IMC Licensing is thrilled to be recognized by License Global as a Top 25 Global Licensing Agent. On this year’s…

    IMC Licensing

    September 10, 2020

  • A Fresh Perspective on Licensing | Lauren DeLapa, IMC Licensing

    On the latest installment of The Brand Licensing Podcast, we’re sitting down with Lauren DeLapa from IMC Licensing. As an Associate Account Manager,…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    September 9, 2020

  • IMC’s Proven Brand Licensing Deal Process

    Wading into the licensing pool can be pretty intimidating. On one hand, you think you should understand every aspect, but on…

    IMC Licensing

    August 19, 2020

  • Pet Licensing in the Pandemic | Steven Shweky, Fetch for Pets

    On the latest episode of The Brand Licensing Podcast, we’re sitting down with Steven Shweky, President of Fetch for Pets,…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    August 10, 2020

  • Why Work With IMC Licensing?

    So, you’re looking for a brand licensing agency. Congrats! Jumping into licensing is an exciting endeavor, but now, you’re facing…

    IMC Licensing

    July 23, 2020

  • Understanding Retail Marketing | Randy Golenberg, Spark Your Brand

    On the latest episode of The Brand Licensing Podcast, President of Spark Your Brand, Randy Golenberg, sat down to discuss the nitty-gritty of retail marketing.  Randy…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    July 23, 2020

  • The Power of a Style Guide for Your Licensing Program | Tom Froberg, StyleWorks

    On this episode of The Brand Licensing Podcast, we are joined by Partner and Creative Director of StyleWorks, Tom Froberg. Our conversation dives deep into…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    July 23, 2020

  • Managing Licensing Programs with CRM Software | Nate Cavanaugh, Brainbase

    Joining us on The Brand Licensing Podcast is co-founder and CEO of Brainbase, Nate Cavanaugh. On this episode, we take a closer look…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    July 23, 2020

  • The Brand Licensing Podcast Official Launch

    It’s launch day! The Brand Licensing Podcast is officially live to listeners, and we couldn’t be more excited. Check out our first three…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    July 23, 2020

  • The Brand Licensing Podcast – Launch Lineup

    We’re counting down the days until the launch of The Brand Licensing Podcast and can’t wait to share our upcoming…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    July 23, 2020

  • Introducing The Brand Licensing Podcast

    Our team is excited to announce the launch of The Brand Licensing Podcast. The podcast will be available across streaming platforms on July…

    The Brand Licensing Podcast

    July 23, 2020

  • IMC’s Program Management Services

    Once we’ve executed a thoughtful licensing strategy  and connected you with the perfect licensee via our  solicitation services, we don’t ghost. We’re in it…

    Julie Brown

    July 23, 2020

  • Restaurant Licensing: Product Extension Strategy Approach

    We recently spoke with a leading casual dining restaurant chain about licensing their brand. They wanted three things:  I was really struggling…

    IMC Licensing

    May 27, 2020

  • IMC’s Licensing Solicitation Services

    So, you’re looking to jump into licensing solicitation and start your search for potential partners. Where do you begin? This is where we come into the picture! At…

    Julie Brown

    May 19, 2020

  • IMC’s Strategy Services

    As experts a top brand licensing agency, IMC offers three core services: licensing strategy services, partner solicitation, and program management.…

    Julie Brown

    April 22, 2020

  • Are you a Good Licensor? Tips to Maximize your Partnership with Licensees

    As a licensor, you have high expectations of your licensees. And you should! You manage a leading brand and business…

    Julie Brown

    March 31, 2020

  • Trends in the Outdoor Industry & How Brand Licensing Can Help Fuel Growth

    We recently attended the 70th Outdoor Retailer show in Denver, CO. Outdoor Retailer happens twice a year. There is a…

    IMC Licensing

    February 28, 2020

  • Brand Licensing vs. Patent Licensing – How to launch a new product through Licensing

    We get several calls from start-up companies and entrepreneurs about utilizing licensing to launch their product. The conversation usually goes…

    IMC Licensing

    January 28, 2020

  • The Basics of Royalty Accounting: What You Need to Know

    Royalty accounting can be somewhat complex, especially depending on the contract terms that are negotiated. However, once you have an…

    IMC Licensing

    May 3, 2019

  • Don’t make this common mistake with your license agreement

    It’s fairly common, a licensee’s legal or executive team negotiates and signs the licensing agreement and then hands the reigns…

    Julie Brown

    May 1, 2019

  • Royalty Accounting – Guaranteed Minimum Royalties (GMR)

    Today, most businesses prefer not to guarantee results in a contract — let alone guarantee sales results. This is what…

    IMC Licensing

    April 10, 2019

  • What Should My Licensing Royalty Rate Be?

    Inevitably one of the first questions asked is how much will we earn in royalty revenue. As an industry expert…

    IMC Licensing

    March 21, 2019

  • Mitigating Your Brand Licensing Risks

    Some consider licensing out their brand very risky, while others would argue that licensing out their brand is a low-risk…

    IMC Licensing

    February 14, 2019

  • Outdoor Retailer

    One of our clients is looking for new partners in the outdoor space. With Outdoor Retailer happening down in Denver, I jumped…

    IMC Licensing

    December 3, 2018

  • Licensing Show 2018

    We stopped exhibiting at the licensing show when it moved from NY to Las Vegas. That seems like ages ago,…

    IMC Licensing

    May 29, 2018

  • Licensing Show 2017

    Like many industries, once a year the licensing community descends on Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay. The show offers something for…

    IMC Licensing

    June 5, 2017

  • Licensing During Disruption: How Licensing Can Serve the Auto Industry as it has Served Others

    Disruption: The Only Constant Did you ever think you would buy toilet paper on your phone? Neither did supermarkets. Did…

    Stephen Reily

    May 1, 2017

  • 2nd Annual Licensing Summit in New York

    It was our first year attending the 2nd annual Licensing Summit in New York and we’re so glad we added this conference to…

    Julie Brown

    March 7, 2017

  • Brand Licensing 2016 Update

    2016 was another great year for us here at IMC. We enjoyed working with our licensing partners and meeting with…

    IMC Licensing

    February 6, 2017

  • 2017 Licensing Trade Shows – Tips and Tricks

    I can’t believe there hasn’t been a funny movie made about the trade show experience. You know you can relate!…

    IMC Licensing

    January 15, 2017

  • A product launch hits close to home: Introducing the new line of AT&T mhealth Baby Monitors

    As a licensing program manager, I always get excited for a new product launch at retail.  Licensees, licensors, agents, manufacturers,…

    Julie Brown

    March 28, 2016

  • Connect and Share with New AT&T Baby Monitors, Available Exclusively at Babies “R” Us

    Baby’s Journey and AT&T Enter the Baby Monitor Category to Provide Parents a New, Convenient and Secure View into Baby’s…

    Julie Brown

    February 16, 2016

  • It’s Cool To Be Healthy: How Marketing Saved Wellness’ Business Model

    Is cheesecake the new tobacco?  That’s a question asked that has highlighted both good news –the New York Times last week, Americans Are…

    IMC Licensing

    August 5, 2015

  • When Products do the Talking: Volvo Life Paint Says it All

    At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity only one campaign won two Grand Prix Awards (in Design and Promo/Activation), and…

    Stephen Reily

    July 15, 2015

  • The 5 Hottest Topics at Cannes Lions 2015: Women, Girls, Girls, Women, and Girls

    Last year Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg came to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, and boy did she make a difference. …

    Stephen Reily

    June 29, 2015

  • 4 Reasons Why Licensing Needs Digital Marketing

    Five years ago many of our licensing clients (global CPG brands among them) weren’t even using digital marketing and social…

    Stephen Reily

    June 26, 2015

  • Stories Beat Data: And Other Marketing Insights from Cannes Lions 2015

    For all the lessons technology teaches us, did you ever feel like it also ignores some of the most important…

    Stephen Reily

    June 26, 2015

  • 3 Proven Ways to Save Your Brand from the Brink: Business Comeback Stories

    Though it’s a few years old, I recently re-read “The Biggest Business Comebacks of the Past 20 Years” shared the stories of…

    Stephen Reily

    May 6, 2015

  • Earned Social Media = Earned Consumer Trust

    Brands are constantly seeking the loyal consumer. Not the one who buys occasionally, but the one who follows through on…

    IMC Licensing

    April 24, 2015

  • Four Things Great Brand Licensing Partners Do

    Batman and Robin. Brin and Page. Ben & Jerry. Some business partnerships are so great that they appear to happen…

    IMC Licensing

    January 13, 2015

  • My 3 Lessons from CES: How Tech Makes Great Products Happen

    This year’s CES (bigger than ever, and more interesting than usual) failed to offer one show-stopping piece of technology, but…

    Stephen Reily

    January 8, 2015

  • Rethinking the 4 P’s for a Digital World

    Since Jerome McCarthy laid out the Four P’s in 1962, we’ve been able to take for granted that a successful…

    IMC Licensing

    December 8, 2014

  • Do you buy “Charmin” or “Toilet Paper”? Category Managers Know, Even if You Don’t

    When you make your shopping list, do you think about buying a category or a brand? Even if you think…

    Stephen Reily

    November 4, 2014

  • Lowe’s OSHbot: The Robot Holiday Sales Associate

    When Orchard Supply Warehouse, a California based home improvement and gardening retailer, was purchased by Lowe’s last year, its employees…

    IMC Licensing

    November 4, 2014

  • Why Mobile Matters this Holiday Season

    My friend called me from Target last week. “I am standing between the Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations, what is…

    IMC Licensing

    November 4, 2014

  • Are you ready to buy a Chiquita-brand orange?

    Chiquita Brands, a former IMC client, found itself in play this year, with competing offers from the Ireland-base Fyffes, the world’s…

    Stephen Reily

    October 30, 2014

  • Private Label Means Growth – Even for Brands

    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

    Since 1997, IMC has been helping the owners of global iconic brands find ways to grow through new products and…

    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?

    I was recently reviewing some notes from a talk I heard almost two years ago – one that continues to…

    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…

    IMC Licensing

    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

    Demands on new product development have greatly increased over the last decade with increased need for speed to market, lowering…

    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

  • The Benefits of Brand Licensing: Quickly Explained

    As advertising is faced with a rapidly changing environment, brand owners and brand managers are looking for smart and new…

    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

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

    IMC Licensing

    November 22, 2010

  • Why Use a Brand Licensing Agency?

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

    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

  • Brand Licensing 101

    As a brand and product licensing agency that develops and manages licensing programs for our clients’ trademarks and brands, we…

    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…

    IMC Licensing

    August 19, 2008

  • The Brand 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 in a Licensing Agreement: 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


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.