Asgard Media appoints Robyn Cowling as its Head of Strategic Partnerships

Asgard Media, the licensing consultancy business launched by Kelvyn Gardner, has tapped Robyn Cowling has its new head of strategic partnerships as the company looks towards ‘a bright future’, following Kelvyn’s passing earlier this year.

Formerly the licensing director at Underground Toys (acquired by Funko), Cowling brings with her over ten years of experience in the licensing space, as well as a wealth of knowledge in the pop culture and trends space. With a proven track record, she is a popular member of the licensing industry who is passionate about products.

Cowling was selected for the role at Asgard Media for the ‘values she embodies’ as well as her commitment to growing the business in collaboration with clients and licensors in a ‘profitable and sustainable way’ by encouraging them to connect, build and nurture relationships.

“In particular, I’m looking forward to combining my commercial knowledge and product development expertise to deliver new, exciting licensed ranges and products to the FMCG and gift sectors,” said Cowling. “Asgard represents clients in a broad range of sectors including craft gin and cakes – what’s not to love?!

“I’m keen to prove worthy of the support which Kelvyn’s family have shown me by guiding our existing clients into exploring different genres and adding to our strong portfolio with new strategic partners.”

Kelvyn Gardner created Asgard Media as a new consultancy business in 1998 after his success with Merlin Publishing, which was founded by Kelvyn and three colleagues in 1989. During the ’90s, Merlin Publishing became the fastest-growing private company in the United Kingdom, winning the coveted Price Waterhouse Top 100 in 1995. Merlin’s growth was rooted in Kelvyn’s work getting the essential licenses that brought that success. For the next 20 years, Kelvyn marketed hundreds of licensed products worldwide.

Over that time, Kelvyn also filled the role of managing director of Licensing International UK, helping the industry for more than ten years ending in 2020.

Michelle Gardner, director at Asgard Media, said: “Kelvyn’s sudden passing on the 26th of January this year hit us hard. Of course this meant a decision as to whether we continued in licensing. However a desire to look after our lovely clients led us to carry on, although without Kelvyn at the helm this was a daunting prospect.

“Advice from good friends within the industry led us to David Berry of Interim Licensing Management. David has done a fantastic job guiding us through the licensing maze, getting Asgard Media back on track at what has been a challenging time. We could not have asked for a better helping hand in the interim whilst we looked to engage someone permanently. Now seven months on, we are happy to announce Robyn Cowling’s appointment as Head of Strategic Partnerships for Asgard Media.”

Kelvyn’s children, Eliot and Regan, added: “Our dad created Asgard Media especially to provide a range of independent consultancy services and strategic advice to the licensing business sector. We grew up around licensing, and knowing that Asgard will continue to be a part of the vibrant industry he loved so much means the world to us. Having Robyn on board really makes us ready for an electric future.”

Alongside this exciting appointment, as part of their growth strategy, Asgard will be expanding its portfolio. You can now ‘summon the power of Asgard’ by contacting Robyn at:

Robyn Cowling: 07958 029 326

Kelvyn Gardner | Global licensing community pays tribute to industry’s ‘brightest star and biggest heart’

Tributes have been paid en masse from across the industry to ‘one of licensing’s brightest stars and biggest hearts’, Kelvyn Gardner, who very sadly died unexpectedly yesterday morning (January 26).

As the tragic news broke throughout the evening, members from across the global licensing community were moved to share condolences and memories of the greatly respected and much-loved ‘king of licensing’ who died of a heart attack this week.

The founder of Asgard Media and the long-time managing director of Licensing International UK, as well as an active member of the Light Fund committee, Kelvyn will be remembered as a source of inspiration, friendship, and support to many across the industry.

Kelvyn’s wife, Michelle, alongside his daughter Regan and son Eliot shared the news yesterday evening. Michelle also posted a message to the social media platform, LinkedIn to relay the news to the extensive community of friends and colleagues that Kelvyn had built around him over his lifetime in licensing.

“It was almost instant, he had tingling pains in his arms and felt a slight pain in his chest,” she posted. “I was getting dressed to take him to emergency as I wasn’t happy with what was going on, when he fell back and started not breathing properly. I called 999 and was on the phone while doing heart massage (cpr).

“The ambulance took only ten minutes to arrive, where they worked on Kelvyn for about an hour. Although they were extremely kind, saying they were taking him into MK Hospital where the resuscitation team was waiting, myself, Regan & Eliot (his children) knew that he had passed away.

“As I am typing this I just cannot tell you how we feel we are at a loss… It was Kelvyn’s 66th birthday on the 22nd of January 2021 and was going to be our big wedding anniversary 40 years… we had joked that he wouldn’t know one end of a ruby if it bit him, so I think I might have got some ruby coloured Warrington gear!

“Please feel free to get in touch, as Covid is so crap you know that funerals are 30 people, so in time we think a memorial service in its stead (Covid notwithstanding) – Michelle Gardner.”

Michelle’s message and the sudden shock of the news has prompted a mass outpouring from an industry enchanted by a man for whom licensing and the people within it was a way of life. 

In the tributes that continue to be paid to him, Kelvyn has been remembered as the “brightest star and biggest heart in the licensing industry” as well as a ‘familiar and friendly face of the licensing industry; a genuine man who always had time for a chat. He will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.’

From the early days in the licensed collectables space with Merlin through his career with Licensing International UK and in the latter years with Asgard Media (his own award-winning business that he maintained throughout) as well as his Living with Licensing Podcast, Kelvyn had been the voice of the industry.

A friend to all in the business, Kelvyn has always been a constant source of support and inspiration to us at; our conversations always characterised by laughter, his sharing of great insight and depth of knowledge, and is ability to ever be forward-looking.

A true embodiment of the licensing community he helped create, Kelvyn will be deeply missed by all within it.

Kelvyn’s family have requested that no flowers are sent, but anyone who would like to get in touch can do so by writing to Pendragon House, Wicken Rd, Deanshanger, Milton Keynes, MK19 6JR.

Michelle, Regan, and Eliot are to advise on which charity they would like people to donate to in Kelvyn’s honour. 

OPINION – Asgard Media’s Kelvyn Gardner on the importance of looking outside of the industry

Next week the ‘virtual doors’ of the Festival of Licensing will open to the licensing world. So, before we’ve even begun to get used to London’s Excel as the new home of Europe’s biggest licensing event, Asgard Media will now be coming to terms with being a digital exhibitor.

We were founded in 1998, the year before the very first Brand License London 1999 – as it was then called. Although the way we go about our work, already different through emerging technologies, is even more radically changed by working through a digital platform, our mission remains the same – to bring new companies into licensing.

Most of you reading this will already be utilising licensing as an important part of your work. You may be an agent or licensor/brand owner, a manufacturer of consumer goods with a license portfolio, a service provider of design, e-commerce and sundry other diverse roles. Licensing is a big business in the UK, and a growing business. We’re all proud of our part in it. 

Here’s an uncomfortable fact, though. Only a tiny proportion of British manufacturing firms utilise licensing. Licensing International’s research shows that the UK, the second biggest licensing market in the world, generated retail sales of licensed products worth $15 billion in 2019. 

MakeUK  ( the trade association for manufacturers, calculates total output of our manufacturers at $250 billion. Now, not all of that output is consumer goods, but, even so, this means that only 6 per cent of all the manufacturing output of this country is using licensing

What a shame when we all know that licensing could help almost all manufacturers of consumer goods. Put simply, that’s what Asgard Media does. We help manufacturers use licensing to improve their business. 

We call ourselves ‘Licensing Consultants’, but what does that mean to a company not currently involved in consumer products licensing? What is it that we know that can add value to their business?

What we know is that licensing works. Take one of our own newest clients, The Harrogate Tipple. At the beginning of 2019, they were a regional small-batch distiller of craft gin under their own brand. A nice business but confronting huge competition in the craft gin market, many retail doors closed to them. 

Asgard Media took them on. We put them into their first license, Downton Abbey. In just eighteen months they have won major international quality awards for Downton Abbey Gin, opened export markets to USA, Europe and Australia, and even picked up Best Newcomer Award at the 2020 Licensing International Licensing Excellence Awards. Even the Yorkshire Post reported this. Sales, distribution, consumer profile, all boosted fantastically by this wonderful marketing tool, licensing.

And licensing is not just a tool for SMEs. Long-term Asgard Media clients like Finsbury Foods and Yoplait continue to add new licensed SKUs to their ranges every year and enjoy these same business benefits.

So, our mission, every day, and focused on the Festival of Licensing, is to take the lesson of the Harrogate Tipple to the 85 per cent of UK manufacturers who do not use licensing right now. We have no allegiance to any particular brand or property; we look for the right fit between our licensee clients and all the brand opportunities out there. 

We believe that we are a positive force for UK licensing as a whole. However, I really must end with a direct appeal to manufacturers: come and meet Asgard Media at the Festival of Licensing. It will cost you nothing to find out from us just how licensing can boost your sales, your profits and your profile. It just might change your life.

Asgard Media’s Kelvyn Gardner launches Living with Licensing podcast

Licensing industry stalwart and director of Asgard Media, Kelvyn Gardner, has today launched a new licensing industry podcast with the aim of informing and entertaining the industry and the people within in it in equal measure.

Called Living with Licensing, the new podcast series kicks off today and sees Gardner, a man known over the course of his career for his work as the former UK MD of the licensing industry body, Licensing International and for his work with Panini earlier in his career, joined by the celebrated IP creator, Keith Chapman.

“I listen to many Podcasts, and while I expect to be informed, I also want to be entertained,” said Gardner. “So, the style of Living with Licensing will be to interview prominent figures from the business about their lives and careers, and how each has affected the other.

“This editorial angle produces content that includes anecdotes and case histories from the contributors which will enhance listeners’ licensing knowledge but also put a smile on their faces.”

Episode one goes live today (September 16th) and features well-known IP creator Keith Chapman, the man behind Bob the Builder, PAW Patrol, and many others. Soon to follow  will be episodes featuring Trudi Heyward of Brand-Ward and David Scott, treasurer of The Light Fund and recently retired as MD of Rainbow Productions.

Thereafter the Podcast is planned to release new episodes twice each month. The Living with Licensing podcast can be downloaded from Podcast host, Podbean, and from the Asgard Media Website

Over the next few days all the usual Podcast platforms including Apple, Google, Spotify, Deezer and Stitcher will be added.
For further information please contact Kelvyn Gardner

Downton Abbey Gin takes home silver and bronze in the International Wine and Spirits Competition

The Harrogate Tipple’s licensed Downton Abbey gin has picked up a silver and bronze award at the International Wine and Spirits Competition this year. The firm’s Premium Downton Abbey Gin took home the silver, having scored 91 out of 100, and the Rhubarb Downton Abbey Gin was handed bronze for scoring 88.

The International Wine and Spirits Competition has been the world’s premiere contest to find the best in wines and spirits across the world for the past 50 years. This year’s competition saw The Harrogate Tipple take home a total of five certificates.

Steven Green, chief tipple taster for the company, remarked: “A panel of world-renowned experts from across the globe carried out a blind tasting of hundreds of spirits. All spirits scoring 90 and upwards as a result of this process were then re-tasted by the Judging Committee for their final confirmation. With such rigorous tasting, we’re delighted that our two premium Downton Abbey gins received scores of 88 and 91 out of 100. Otterley marvellous.”

Kelvyn Gardner of Asgard Media, who brokered the Downton Abbey license with Universal Studios, added: “Winning these prestigious Silver and Bronze Awards underscores Harrogate Tipple’s commitment to quality. Steven and his team created this gin from scratch after much research going back to the 1920’s era for style, taste, botanical content and even the shape of the bottle.

“Licensors can be sure that Harrogate Tipple will always deliver premium spirits carefully crafted. We’d like to thank Universal Studios for their confidence in granting the Downton Abbey rights.”

For more information on The Harrogate Tipple and their award-winning range of premium spirits visit

For licensing enquiries please contact Kelvyn Gardner at Asgard Media


On the hunt: Kelvyn Gardner’s Asgard Media is on a mission to benefit the licensing industry

Kelvyn Gardner is an individual who really does know licensing. It’s by no accident of course, and only to be expected of a man who has spent over 40 years working in or around the industry, and certainly the trait of a one who has spent the last 13 as the managing director of Licensing International UK – both in its incarnation as LIMA UK and its rebranded moniker.

But if the global response to COVID-19 or the uprising of the Black Lives Matter campaign has taught us anything, it’s that 2020 is the year for change. And with it, Gardner too has found opportunities presented as the result of evolution and coming out of the other side of his role with the industry body.

Some 22 years on from the establishment of his own company, Asgard Media – a licensing agency-meets-consultancy business operating predominantly in the collectables, food, and beverage spaces – Gardner is preparing for a relaunch. Or perhaps more accurate, a reacquaintance, with the business that he had always had ticking over in the background, even throughout his LIMA UK/Licensing International years.

Whatever you want to call it, it is Gardner’s moment to put Asgard Media back on the radar for this multi-billion dollar industry, with one very clear message. And it’s one that he suggests works for the licensing industry in its entirety.

“It’s an appeal to the thousands of manufacturers out there who do not use brand licensing as part of their marketing mix,” Gardner tells

“Our message is ‘Connect with the world’s biggest brands’, because that is what all of us are about, surely?”

It’s become an industry-wide headline, that the opportunity now for the licensing industry, is that retailers and consumers will retreat to the brand names while it negotiates the ongoing pandemic situation within an uncertain retail environment. It’s a school of thought that Gardner subscribes to, and one that he is ready to take to the next level, all, he says, to the benefit of the industry he loves.

“I am a lifelong believer in the power of brand licensing, and although we are a private company and not a trade body, to a certain extent, what Asgard Media is trying to do is bring new companies into the licensing world, by focussing on the companies or the manufacturers with great product, but for whatever reason, not already in the licensing space, and that should be for the benefit of everybody in licensing,” Gardner continues.

“It’s clear from discussions in the licensing press, and some of the sessions from Virtual Licensing Week, that right now, co-operation and flexibility are required more than ever if we are to make licensing work for existing players.

“This is even more important if we are to attract new licensees, and to persuade reluctant brand owners to open up their IP to the many excellent licensees that we already have.”

The advantage from which Gardner implements his mission plan is that he comes back to the scene without affiliations. He is now what he calls, an honest broker.

“If I find somebody in a category, I am able to approach any brand or any licensor as an agent, rather than someone who has a portfolio to promote,” he explains. “To some degree, I hope not to be bringing in licensees just for me, but licensees and businesses for the wider licensing community.”

It’s the role of guide, then that Kelvyn is looking to adopt through his Asgard Media outfit, braced with the knowledge accumulated over a 40 year career (to date) in the licensing business and the laser-like knowledge of its intricacies (Gardner asked me if I’d spent much time reading licensing contracts – it turns out he has read through a few). In his former role with Licensing International, Gardner was a man passionate about educating the next generation of licensing executives, and opening up the boundaries for new product sectors. It’s a mission statement he has carried on with him.

“I have come across it so many times over the years,” he says. “It’s easy for those inside of licensing to know how it works, but I think it is so misunderstood, or not understood at all, outside of the industry; and we don’t go out of our way to make it easier. But there are ways to explain it to people in simple terms if we take the time to do it, and if, as as part of my world, that brings in business for the whole of the licensing industry, that has got to be a positive thing.”

To that end, he suggests, simplicity is key. Look at the work he has done for the Asgard Media client Harrogate Tipple, helping to broker Universal Studios’ first licensing partnership down the spirits aisle, or the longstanding relationship he has with Topps, the ever-expanding Finsbury Foods licensing roster, or Yoplait – the company who famously stood vehemently against licensing until it recognised the perks it was offering its competitors in the food sector.

“The other strand to it all is that – having been a licensee for ten to 15 years myself – there is a tendency to think ‘we don’t need anymore licensees.’,” Gardner says. “Now, I’ve never believed in the Barbie dollar – the idea that there is a dollar to be spent on Barbie merchandise, which subsequently has to be split between all of its licensees. I still think the market can expand, providing that everybody is sensible, withou having to go down the route of ‘splicensing’ as it is known.

“It is also true to say that there not that many manufacturers and marketing companies who regularly buy licenses. The last time I did an analysis of this, there were only about 700 UK companies listed as working with a license. How many manufacturers are there in the UK? There’s got to be tens of thousands. Licensing is a big business, but most companies aren’t in it. The holy grail for us all in licensing is to find somebody in sectors that aren’t currently doing licensing; and by all accounts there are those people out there.”

Gardner’s approach from here on can be likened to the old ‘the man who built it’ brainteaser. The clients he is looking for don’t know they want Asgard Media as a service provider; in fact, they probably don’t even know they want to be in licensing. Asgard Media has to fill in all of the gaps for them.

It’s a point Agard Media certainly looks to address in its new marketing material, kicking off with the newly launched company video that highlights the message ‘Licensing is our world, let us bring you into it.’ It’s the metaphorical hand that Gardner is extending to all of those businesses currently not in licensing, to help them along the way.

How does marketing today compare to that of 1998, the last time Gardner actively promoted the Asgard Media name? It’s fewer marketing mailshots, and more video content for a start, suggests Gardner. So we can expect a lot more of that in the coming months.