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IMC 2008: In or out-bound, there’s more to licensing than meets the eye

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IMC 2008:  In or out-bound, there’s more to licensing than meets the eye

As we move across borders, the licensing laws that govern magazines and broadsheets, too, vary drastically, with some laws being more investor-friendly and the others a tad too stringent. Any publisher or a print firm would be akin to being pushed to the wall at some point in time when trying to venture out to other markets/ territories to forge a bond with a suitable partner. While there Is no denying the complexity involved in licensing a magazine, the simpler and hassle-free way to go about doing it was shared by Mike Greehan, COO, Cue Ball, in his special ‘Classroom’ session on ‘Licensing opportunities and Pitfalls’.

Greehan was speaking at the concluding day of the Indian Magazine Congress, held in Mumbai on September 23. The Indian Magazine Congress was organised by the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) in association with Worldwide Media (WWM). exchange4media Group (, Pitch and impact) and Business Standard were the media partners.

Greehan wasted no time as he began updating the audience on the opportunities and challenges that were associated with both the in-bound and out-bound form of licensing. Presenting findings from a study conducted worldwide, Greehan said that the top reasons that accounted for increasing number of magazines preferring the in-bounding route were that it was faster to launch, that profitability could be attained faster, it was high on providing quality content, created local market awareness of international brand, helped in transfer of know-how and ideas, and provided better opportunities to advertisers to strengthen relationships with other brands.

“While in-bound had its share of investors, the out-bound, too, found favour with many subscribing to the method for multiple reasons like gaining additional revenue/ profit, desire to build a global brand, for approaching maximiSation in home territory, and most importantly for prestige,” he said.

Greehan asked the gathering to look out for some big questions pertaining to licensing, such as which assets were important to the company, what was the total or true cost of the opportunity of licensing, what was the process to be followed, etc. “Magazine publishers also need to look out for costs and details surrounding it, like what would be the other costs associated with the venture, the imposition of controls by either of the partners, tending to unreasonable financial demands, attend to time and staffing concerns, and what would be the potential risk to reputation,” Greehan added.

Presenting his stance on the pitfalls, Greehan began by first citing the symptoms associated with licensing pitfalls. He said, “The most commonly observed pitfalls include unmatched goals by either or any of the partner/s, not enough sharing of information, not enough questions being asked before a deal was signed, things don’t work out as planned, which really indicates that the two are not treating each other as dependable partners.”

According to Greehan, there were certain truths/ facts that licensees, too, ought to know before entering into a tie-up with a suitable licensor. He advised the audience to look out for inner details like circulation figures, advertising revenues being generated, whether they had additional international titles, whether the titles worked or failed at an international level, the reasons for its failure, among others.

“Amid all these concerns, it should be mandatory to check whether licensors help partners to sell advertising, or what is the advertising support they really help provide; that’s an important aspect that cannot be missed,” Greehan noted.

Summing off, he said that licensing could be favourable for all the good that came out of it, such as helping in launching a brand quickly and being less expensive, but then it could be bad too when one could not recover the money in time. “All these could be avoided if we can come up with some realistic expectations, have matching objectives, a strong communication window, and treat one another as mutual partners,” Greehan concluded.


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