Children’s Rights Edition: A 16th ‘Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids’ in Italy

In News by Porter Anderson

This important hub of the overall rights activity at Bologna features some of the business’ biggest brands—and its own awards.

On the 2022 Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids exhibition floor. Image: BLTF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

See also: Rights Edition: Bologna Book Plus’ Rights Programming

Merch ‘n’ More
At Bologna Children’s Book Fair (March 6 to 9), the Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids is in its 16th year of promotion as “the only international kids’ licensing trade show devoted to the subsidiary rights of brands and properties for children and teens.”

For those of us who are at the Bologna show each year, this is that central area at BolognaFiere in which  you always spot the head of a very big, disgruntled Smurf before you see anything else. This year your chances to spot that blue guy will run from March 6 to 8—note that the overall book fair continues for one more day, on March 9.

In last year’s edition of the overall book fair, there were 1,070 exhibitors in place from 90 international markets, and 21,000 trade visitors—at least 40 percent of them from outside Italy. It’s that context of the bookish world for younger readers that has, over a decade-and-a-half, signaled to licensing directors and agents that Bologna is the central trade center for the children’s, teens’, and  young adults’ content producers.

Companies Exhibiting in 2023

On the 2022 Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids exhibition floor. Image: BLTF

The show-within-a-show that the licensing area presents includes a business lounge and events hall as well as an exhibition floor that this year reportedly will include:

  • Rights & Brands
  • Pokémon Company International
  • Sanrio
  • Paramount
  • NBCUniversal
  • Mattel
  • Banijay Kids and Family
  • De Agostini
  • DeA Planeta Entertainment
  • WildBrain CPLG
  • Mondo TV
  • Rai Com
  • Maurizio Distefano Licensing
  • TF1 Licensing
  • Starbright
  • Cicaboom
  • Sbabam
  • Pea & Promoplast
  • Clavis Publishing
  • Mediatoon
  • Cool Things
  • Viacom
  • Ets Licensing
  • Ema SRL
  • Turner
  • Grani & Partners
  • Showlab
  • Bonus Marketing
  • Dynit
  • IMG Italia
  • Mediaset
  • Leoni
  • Musgummi

There are B2B conferences in English, all organized “to delve into the latest trends in children’s content, from licensing to publishing,” organizers say, “from the digital evolution to toy sector, to new retail approaches. Speakers are professionals from renowned global companies such as Mattel, Moomin, Moonbug, Zag, Gaumont.”

You can find more about the “International Kids Licensing Days” program, for example, on this page. Keep scrolling. There’s a whole “metaverse” of events there flagged for the licensing show.

The Licensing Conference Room, Hall 29 (Mall 2), is where you’ll find in-person meetings, and all the International Kids Licensing Days sessions are being moderated by Cristina Angelucci, editor-in-chief of Licensing Magazine. The sessions are later made available on-demand.

Bologna Licensing Awards: The 2023 Shortlists

On the 2022 Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids exhibition floor. Image: BLTF

Of course, the show wouldn’t be part of Bologna (or book publishing in general) without awards. Outside of Hollywood’s actors, nobody likes to hand each other awards as much as book people do. Have we given you an award today for reading this article? It’s in the mail.

The Bologna Licensing Awards this year will be in their sixth year of “acknowledging excellence in property and brand development” for the year 2022.

There are no fewer than 10 categories of shortlistees this year. And there’s one especially attractive aspect of these awards: unlike some of the major prize programs at Bologna, this one hasn’t announced its winners before trade visitors arrive. The winners of the Bologna Licensing Awards will be named on March 6 in a 4 p.m. event, which is open to all the industry professionals on-hand, in the Licensing Conference Room.

Here are the shortlists for this year’s contest:

Pre-School Licensing Project

The three finalists in this category for ages 3 to 5 are:

  • Lerner Publishing Group, in partnership with Sesame Workshop, with their SEL Publishing Program project with Sesame Street
  • Maurizio Distefano Licensing with Toys Center and Giochi Preziosi for the Bing Toy Retail Campaign
  • Pon Pon Edizioni in partnership with Maurizio Distefano Licensing and Acamar Film for the book Bing, A che ora giochiamo? (Bing, What Time Do We Play?)

Kids Licensing Project
This one falls into projects for ages 6 to 10:

  • Creata with McDonald’s Happy Meal and the Smurfs project in collaboration with Schleich
  • Sanrio with Colors Festival x Mr. Men, Little Miss, in partnership with Colors Festival
  • Sanrio for the Hello Kitty Little Bags project in partnership with Sbabam

Teen Licensing Project

The target ages are 11 to 16 here:

  • The Pokémon Company International with the retail project Pokémon x La Rinascente “in synergy with” La Rinascente retail group
  • Rights & Brands with The Worlds of Tove Jansson by Arket
  • WildBrain CPLG for the Benetton Undercolors x Peanuts project in partnership with Benetton

Retail Project

  • The Pokémon Company International with the retail project Pokémon x La Rinascente “in synergy with” La Rinascente retail group
  • Sanrio for the Aggretsuko Hellefest project together with Hellfest
  • TF1 Licensing with the BarbaLouvre project in collaboration with the Louvre Museum

Best Fashion Project

  • Paramount together with GCDS for the Limited Edition Fashion Collection with Spongebob Squarepants
  • Sanrio with Adidas for Hello Kitt, in collaboration with Adidas
  • Wildbrain and the Peanuts for the Iceberg Kids x Peanuts project, in collaboration with Iceberg

Licensed Publishing Project

  • The Ludattica x Eric Carle project by WildBrain CPLG, for the brand The World of Eric Carle
  • Sanrio and Discover You with Mr Men, Little Miss Discover You
  • Lerner Publishing Group with Sesame Workshop for the SEL Publishing Program project with Sesame Street

Licensed Toy Project

A new category for the 2023 edition, this one’s finalists are:

  • Topo Gigio with the toy line inspired by Topo Gigio and developed by Giochi Preziosi
  • Rights & Brands with Moomin House by Martinex in partnership with Martinex
  • Faba with Le più belle storie della Nuvola Olga written by the author and illustrator Nicoletta Costa

Promotion/Loyalty Campaign

  • Sanrio with Mr Men, Little Miss for the Monsieur Madame Burger King Promotion project in collaboration with Burger King
  • Sanrio with Ecover X Mr Men, Little Miss, in collaboration with Ecover;
  • Jakala with the project Minions Market Mania Sound Collection together with NBCUniversal

Licensed Kiosk Product

  • WildBrain CPLG Hachette Bundles for Peanuts in cooperation with Hachette
  • Rainbow for Pinocchio and Friends products produced by Tridimensional
  • Sanrio with Hello Kitty, Little Bags, in partnership with Sbabam

Property of the Year

  • BBC’s Bluey, represented in Italy by Maurizio Distefano Licensing
  • The Pokémon Company International with Pokémon
  • Paramount with Paw Patrol

Products representing all these shortlisted projects are to be displayed throughout the fair at the Licensing Trade Fair’s “Kids Awards Showcases” in Hall 29 (Mall 2).

On the 2022 Bologna Licensing Trade Fair/Kids exhibition floor. Image: BLTF


More from Publishing Perspectives on licensing is here. More from Publishing Perspectives on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. More on Bologna Children’s Book Fair is here, more on children’s books is here, more on the Italian market is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.