The Royal Wedding crashers

As the 'big day' approaches, we looked at whether the Royal Wedding has been a missed opportunity for the licensing business.
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We love a good wedding in the UK, the bigger and more over the top the better – as underlined by the success of Channel 4’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. And, although we’re unlikely to see Kate Middleton walking down the aisle at Westminster Abbey on April 29th in a huge pink meringue dress (which lights up with hidden fluorescent butterflies), the global TV audience for her marriage to Prince William is predicted to exceed 2.5 billion.

Retail analyst Verdict has estimated that sales of wedding-related merchandise could top £26 million in the UK, and this figure isn’t entirely surprising given the sheer amount of product which will be available.

A quick search on the internet brings up everything from handmade plates, cups, stationery, cushions, keyrings, baby bibs, decorations and teddies on the official Royal Collection website, through to mugs, t-shirts and the imitation engagement ring available from various sites. Then there’s the more novelty items such Kiss Me Kate beer and the Royal Wedding sick bag.

A number of toy and licensing companies are also getting in on the act, including Corgi which has an exclusive limited edition commemorative die-cast souvenir range. The firm has three items, presented in a ‘William & Kate’ gift box and with a numbered certificate: the Austin Mini, a 24 carat gold plated Ford Model T and a three-piece set (including Bullnose van, Bristol Lodekka double decker bus and 1:43 Austin Mini), of which there are only 5,000 available.

"The Royal Wedding will be great for the nation and, like any good occasion it is always nice to have something to remember it by,” comments Martyn Weaver, Corgi’s marketing manager.

While not officially commemorative merchandise, Flair has taken royal inspiration for the naming of the characters in its latest wedding themed Sylvanian Families set. William Balmoral and his bride to be Catherine have already been the subject of national press coverage, proving to be one of the stand out items for TV crews at London’s Toy Fair earlier this year.

Danilo will be publishing a calendar in conjunction with Majesty, while Arklu has a Kate Middleton-themed fashion doll which wears clothing, accessories, jewellery and make up by a number of leading British designers. A percentage of the profits will go to Help for Heroes.

However, despite all the product available, Kelvyn Gardner, LIMA UK’s MD, thinks that the Royal Wedding is actually going to be a missed opportunity.

“It should have been a great opportunity for licensed merchandise,” he tells ToyNews. “Members were calling our office from the day after the announcement asking about the route to official merchandise rights. Unfortunately, Clarence House confirmed to us that no licence would be required – there are simply guidelines to be followed on the royal website for the use of royal insignia.

“I have no doubt that Clarence House believes this to be an inclusive and level playing field policy, designed to allow all British businesses to benefit without favour. However, in practice it means that LIMA members like Danilo, GB eye and Arklu among others, who are marketing quality products and who have made their own efforts to stream revenue from their sales to appropriate charities, will not be able to differentiate themselves from all and sundry poor quality lines imported from all over the world.

“Sadly, the media also tends to seek out ‘tat’ and then tar the whole licensing industry with this entirely inappropriate brush. The ‘no licence required’ stance by Clarence House simply encourages this. Generally speaking, major events that capture the public’s imagination are good for consumer goods sales and, therefore, should be so for licensing. It’s a shame that will not apply this April.”

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