With challenges across the traditional retail sector, brand owners and their agents are looking for new revenue-generating licensing opportunities that also reinforce the brand’s equity, continue to build relevance and marketing activity, and extend audiences.
One “hot” area in licensing is experiential, also referred to as “location-based entertainment.” This can be a retail pop-up store, live show, or any other similar type of event. In these activations, recognizable IP is licensed to appeal to a pre-existing loyal fan base and extend the brand experience for them, while also recruiting new audiences.
One recent example of such an event is the Downton Abbey Exhibition, produced by NBC Universal International and Carnival, the production company behind the Downton Abbey series.
The Greenlight merchandise licensing team visited the Exhibition on West 57th Street in NYC to see what it entailed and to get ideas for potential events for some of the icons we represent.
The exhibit spanned 3 floors of a storefront building in midtown. Upon first arriving, we were drawn to the windows that were filled with props and costumes, quickly bringing us back to our Downton Abbey viewing memories. Upon entering the foyer, a large gift shop was to the right of the ticketing area. Once inside the actual exhibition, we were greeted by a lifelike projection of Carson, informing us of the “house rules.”
The first floor included numerous props and information regarding the downstairs — or servants’ area. Full sets included the kitchen, Carson’s room, and more. In the hall, there were interactive kiosks on which you could take a test to see if you were qualified to work at Downton Abbey, and if so, in what role.
On the second floor, we were brought into the world of the British aristocracy during the Edwardian period with a 360-projection of the Crawley’s living room. The second floor also included Cora’s bedroom, a large screen showing favorite scenes featuring the Dowager Countess Violet, and a showcase dedicated to each of the shows’ characters with more information, costumes, and props.
The top floor included a large display of the exquisite costumes and accessories, including jewelry and headwear, as worn in the show. A small theater was the last stop, with Carson, Mrs. Hughes, and Mr. and Mrs. Crawley thanking us for coming and bidding us a fond farewell.
The exhibition was a spectacular display of Downton Abbey production assets and information -- all presented in a fun, engaging, and interactive way. While the show aired its final season a couple of years ago, the Exhibition brought the brand back to life, reengaging fans who had forgotten how much they missed this incredible show, and spark longing to once again be a Downton consumer. It’s an experience that fans, as well as newcomers to the brand, will enjoy and cherish.