Sunday, April 14, 2024

Licensing & LBE experts talk brand storytelling and attractions

Warren Schorr of Crayola, Matt Proulx of Hasbro and George Wade of Bay Laurel Advisors share experience, perspective and tips for success

This timely and relevant webinar, “Location Based Events and Experiences,” explored a rapidly growing trend that we’ve been reporting on at InPark for a number of years, with some of the top players in the field: Matt Proulx, George Wade and Warren Schorr. I have been honored to work with them all at various times and was delighted to be invited to moderate the webinar.

The Dec 2, 2021 webinar was produced by License Global to help kick off discussion around the 2022 Licensing Expo (Las Vegas May 24-26) which will focus on branding and LBE (location based entertainment). Licensing Expo had transitioned to virtual gatherings but is transitioning back to in-person.

Judith Rubin with Crayola characters at 2021 IAAPA Expo, Orlando, Florida
InPark’s Judith Rubin meets some Crayola friends at the 2021 IAAPA Expo.

On Dec 2, we had all (Wade, Proulx, Schorr and myself) been among the tens of thousands attending the annual IAAPA Expo in Orlando, which takes place in November and was held in person for the first time since the pandemic began. Licensing Expo is to the global licensing industry what IAAPA is to the worldwide attractions industry, and License Global is embracing the LBE topic at an ideal moment as branded attractions find increased success and open creative new pathways to revenue and customer satisfaction. The worlds of licensing and attractions are colliding in a big way. This is leading to new genres of storytelling and immersive experiences that will enrich the attractions and events space.

The webinar discussion was lively and informative. The post-IAAPA mood was optimistic, encouraged by promising conversations, news and presentations. During the show, there were plenty of visible markers for the growth of branded attractions, including a panel discussion about the making of the breakthrough Spider-Man dark ride at Universal Studios and a significant presence from Crayola as well as PEANUTS. (Hasbro has also been quite visible at IAAPA in a variety of ways.) There were also reports of plenty more going on in behind-the-scenes meetings and deal-making. Operators and developers are talking to brand and IP owners.

The speakers were upbeat and candid during the webinar about what it takes to bring a brand to life in an out-of-home experience such as a museum exhibit, family entertainment center (FEC), theme park attraction, hospitality or other form of location-based entertainment (LBE). Nearly 400 people attended the webinar and there was an engaging Q&A as the final segment.

Peppa Pig drives a train around her land at Gardaland in Italy
Peppa Pig Land, Gardaland, Italy. Courtesy Gardaland/Merlin Entertainments

If you missed it, I hope you’ll check out the full discussion but here are a few basic takeaways:

  • To be successful in the LBE sector requires a long-term commitment and process supported by an extensive, dedicated team effort (internal and external).
  • Authenticity and quality control are essential to meeting the expectations of customers and fans.
  • Brands have stories to tell.
  • The LBE experience must be differentiated from the in-home experience (while remaining true to the brand or IP) in order to bring something new and novel to the customer’s interaction with the brand, and provide motivation for repeat visits.
Young wizards try out their wands at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando Resort
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade,. Courtesy Universal Orlando Resort.

The full webinar is available on-demand, free with registration at this link.


InPark Tracks podcast: “The Art of the Branded Experience” – Interview with George Wade of Bay Laurel Advisors.

Live tweeting from PEANUTS Spotlight Session at IAAPA Expo 2021.

Live tweeting from “Legends” panel exploring Spider-Man at Universal Studios, at IAAPA Expo 2021.

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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