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"Currently, the Internet is an important source of developments"

Elías Hofman, president, Exim Licensing Group


Elias Hofman is the president of Exim Licensing, an agency dedicated to licensing, promotions and entertainment for 30 years. The company was established in Argentina, and currently has 15 offices throughout Latin America, as well as four business divisions and over 300 employees. The firm's headquarters is in Miami. Beyblade, Dinosaur Train, Hello Kitty, Madagascar, Power Rangers, and Star Wars are some of the properties the company operates in the territory.

Exim Licensing turns 30 in 2012. How has the business of licensing changed during these three decades?

30 years ago it was a very traditional business and communications were reduced to difficult international phone conversations, as well as post mail, while recently there has been a change in which technology has increased business in a geometric progression. One just has to take into account that when I started in Exim there were no telex, fax, or e-mails...

On the other hand, the offer was substantially lower, as well as competition, and the basic work of agencies was to provide a license and a style guide. What is surprising is that even today there are some agents who are still managing their business the same way.

On the other hand, licensors have changed their policies. From a very small interference and interest in the licensing and merchandising industries, with an emphasis only on TV sales, they have gone to the opposite extreme. That is, today they are thinking on licensing and promotion possibilities of characters at the beginning of the film and series development.

Another field that has increased significantly is licensed promotions - today licensing is basically the basis of almost all promotions.

Technological development also has extended the field of operations beyond a TV series ... Currently, the Internet is an important source for developments.

How has Exim tried to distinguish itself from the competition?

This was the first point we analyzed 30 years ago. When we started, most licenses were held by a few agents. The first challenge faced by Exim in Argentina, our launch country, was to study how to differentiate ourselves and thus we reached three fundamental ideas.

First, we offered the licensor the possibilty to sell their TV shows in exchange for annexing all licensing rights. This way the licensor does not have to wait for an agent to have sales opportunities.

Second, we wanted to provide the licensor with more territory, and thus we did our first tests with Uruguay ... And then started also in Chile, Brazil... The licensor had more advantage in using a single agent and a single contract for multiple territories, instead of several agreements in different territories. Exim currently covers virtually all Latin America with 15 offices and its headquarters in the US.

Third, an ethical commitment - we do not to promise what can not be met, and we do what was promised. We have done this until today.

What are the business objectives for the coming years?

Our growth has been arithmetic for several years, which is normal until any firm reaches a crossing point, when the growth becomes geometric, which is where Exim Licensing Group is today. Not only we differentiate ourselves in our work as an agency, but we also have our own entertainment division, which makes children's live shows throughout the region, we produce our own programs in some television channels, and we have developed our first IP of 52 episodes that is already in Disney XD Latin America and has been sold to all free TV channels in the region. We also have a technology division that develops all kinds of promotions and a premium division.

All this puts us in the first line in Latin America. Also, Exim has a senior staff in the region of 30 to 45 years old, and this is what gives long life and growth to the company.

What are the major trends in licensing in Latin America?

All those that go through Internet developments, as well as all further developments of brands, and series aiming to young adults audiences, as seen mostly in fiction shows with music bands.

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