Tag: Authenticity

Press Release: We’re pioneering blockchain tech in the fight against fakes

  • Market leader Icons worked with digital agency Zone to launch blockchain application
  • Revolutionary tech will enhance consumer trust by tracking the provenance of signed items
  • App will also be used in the fight against fakes and frauds
  • Leo Messi signed shirts among the first items to be ‘b-locked’

London, 18 September 2018 The world’s largest football memorabilia company has become the first application of a pioneering blockchain solution that underpins the value of signed items with the aim of securing consumer trust.

Icons, the world’s leading originator and supplier of signed football memorabilia, has joined with digital experts Zone to create Icons b-locked, an online ledger that tracks the provenance of signed items.

The first items to be used in the Icons b-locked application will be shirts autographed by Lionel Messi during a private signing session with the FC Barcelona superstar in mid-September.

Icons b-locked uses blockchain – the distributed ledger technology that sits behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin – to create a permanent record of signed items, including details of when and where each item was signed.

Consumers use a unique code assigned to their product to view specific details of the item and its associated signing.

The technology comes at a time when the sports memorabilia market, estimated to be worth $2-4billion, is under threat from the rise of fraudsters manipulating online auction websites, as well as the emergence of automated robots capable of replicating signatures for fake products.

Icons CEO, Dan Jamieson, says: “At Icons, we’ve always gone to extraordinary lengths to provide evidence of the authenticity of our goods – not only for our customers but also for the integrity of the market.

“Every day we’re asked if our products are really signed by the players themselves. Consumers need more reassurance than ever. That’s why we’ve worked with Zone to create this world-first product. We want this to be the gold standard which ultimately helps the market grow.”

Edward Freedman, Icons founder, added: “I truly believe that Icons b-locked will put to rest the question of authenticity. It will revolutionise our industry and hopefully it will take us to a level that everyone will be aspiring to.”

Icons has been working with the world’s biggest sports stars since 1999 and has entered into exclusive contracts with the likes of Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona and Eden Hazard.

The company has long-term relationships with Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr and Eric Cantona, among many others. It has had the exclusive official UEFA Champions League memorabilia license for the past six seasons and the worldwide deal was recently renewed for the 2018-21 cycle. Icons also has official memorabilia licences for the FIFA World Cup and FA England.

Jon Davie, Chief Client Officer at Zone, commented: “For all the hype about blockchain, practical applications so far have been few and far between.

“Working with Icons, we had an opportunity to create a blockchain application that ordinary customers can experience, understand and benefit from. The opportunities are endless. Not just in the sports memorabilia market, but in art, antiques, collectables – any market where establishing authenticity and tracking provenance is important.”

For more information please contact Icons CEO Dan Jamieson ([email protected] or +44 20 7267 3934).

Stay up-to-date with Icons b-locked by joining us on Telegram. Click here to join our channel.


About Zone

One of the UK’s leading technology and customer experience agencies, Zone is part of global professional services giant Cognizant, who acquired the agency in October last year.

Recently hailed by the London Stock Exchange as one of the UK’s most inspiring companies, the agency’s 250+ strategy, content and technology experts helps ambitious brands such as Adidas, BMW, Aviva, Barratt Homes, Electrolux, Lloyds Banking Group, Maersk and Unileverwin in a world where digital is mission critical.



Take a tour of our brand new warehouse and operations centre!

Honesty and transparency are at the heart of everything Icons does. It’s in every decision we make and every item we sell.

On our twenty-year quest for truth, which has led us now to the exciting world of cutting-edge blockchain technology, our aim has always been to be as open as possible.Which is exactly why we want to take you inside the ropes at our brand new operations centre. Take the tour with our CEO, Dan Jamieson, and learn more about why we do what we do.



From Our CEO: Introducing… Icons b-locked

Last night, I sat down with my wife and talked her through my day over dinner. I had just spent it briefing our team about a brand new project of ours called Icons b-locked.

Icons b-locked is a new service that will forever change the way signed memorabilia is authenticated. It uses state-of-the-art blockchain technology to make the creation, validation and selling of signed items 100% verifiable in a quick, simple and easy way.

I had wanted to explain this to our team in depth, giving them an idea of the vision and the technology behind the project. I wanted to make the talk accessible and understandable while explaining how this brand new blockchain solution is going to help us fight the good fight against the frauds who sell faked ‘memorabilia’ to an unsuspecting public. Now, I was repeating that talk for my wife.

But as I did so, I found myself getting annoyed as I spoke of so-called ‘competitors’ ripping off our images, stealing our copy and even using robots to fake signatures. After a few minutes, my wife said: “This is all very negative. I thought you do what you do because you believe in heroes?”

My wife has worked in communications in the charity sector for years and she says that in the past a popular fundraising technique was to showcase problems and issues that tug at the heart strings. But donations started to dry up as compassion fatigue set in with a desensitised public. And it’s because of this fatigue that charities and NGOs now focus on hopes, dreams and aspirations. Icons should follow suit, my wife suggested.

Take the latest Barnardo’s campaign, for example. It doesn’t show miserable kids being taken into care. Its focus is not to plead with the viewer to bring an end to an awful situation. Quite the opposite. It shows a young ballet dancer practicing over and over again in a dingy flat with the strap-line ‘Believe in me’. It says: this could be a great thing.

Hearing this, I realised I needed to refocus my message for Icons b-locked. At Icons, we do what we do because we believe in heroes. We love what we do. We get to meet the world’s best-known sportspeople. Through our products, we get to deliver joy and happiness to people around the world who are just like us. People who just want to get closer to their favourite icons.

We chose ‘Be authentic’ as our project strap-line because, not only do we feel it reflects our products and how we do business, but also because it reflects us as people. We turn up on time, we pay our bills and we do what we say we will. Believe me, that is far more unusual in the sports industry than you may think.

Which brings us to blockchain. Our use of blockchain technology is the latest application of our core belief that authenticity should be at the heart of everything we do. It’s why we decided to build the tech behind Icons b-locked to make this project a reality. We have faith in this new and exciting tool for truth and we leapt into its relative unknown because we believe in its possibilities. We believe in transparency; we believe in truth. And Icons b-locked is the next big step on our journey towards proving that beyond doubt.

“That sounds much better,” my wife said. “I buy into that.”


For more information on the Icons b-locked project, visit b-locked.icons.com and join us on Telegram.



Icons CEO Instrumental In Bringing Fraudsters To Justice

Icons Shop Limited CEO, Dan Jamieson, and former head of A1 Sporting Memorabilia, Terry Baker, played key roles in the jailing of David Rennie from FA Premier Signings for the sale of faked signatures.

As one of three expert witnesses during the trial, Dan brought forth his expertise in the signatures of many of sport’s biggest stars and his vast experience in the memorabilia industry. He described the lengths Icons goes to in order to acquire authentic signed memorabilia from the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pele, Diego Maradona and many others.

Dan also detailed the various ways Icons provides its customers with proof of the authenticity of a signed product. He explained that Icons strives to offer all available proof of an item being signed using photos and video, as well as key details such as when and where our signing sessions take place.

In doing so, he helped prove that the people behind FA Premier Signings were faking signatures and misleading the thousands of sports fans who had bought items from their website.

Also key in bringing Rennie to justice was Terry Baker, the man from whom Icons Shop Limited acquired its sister brand, A1 Sporting Memorabilia, in 2015. Baker has worked closely with the Icons team for a number of years.

Icons Shop Limited remains staunchly committed to the protection of the sports memorabilia industry from the litany of fakes and frauds that threaten to ruin the reputations of genuine memorabilia dealers.

We continue to work with trading standards agencies and other memorabilia outlets in the fight against such fraudsters. We strongly advise our customers – and any sports fans wishing to buy genuine signed sports memorabilia – to be diligent in their assessment of memorabilia sold online.

 

For more information on how to avoid fakes and frauds, please see our previous blog post “How To Buy A Genuine Lionel Messi Signed Shirt”.



From Our CEO: Authenticity Is Everything

The dictionary definition of authenticity is “not false or copied; genuine, real” and I spend every minute of every day worrying about it.

Why? Because I run the world’s leading signed football memorabilia company, Icons Shop Limited, and we constantly need to reassure our customers that our items are genuine. If Icons sold one fake signature we would pretty much go bankrupt overnight with our reputation in tatters. Living on that knife-edge does focus the mind somewhat.

At Icons, we go to extraordinary lengths to provide evidence of our authenticity. We have long-standing relationships with some of the greats of world football, including contracts with Leo Messi and Diego Maradona. We are the official memorabilia licensee of the FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Champions League. We provide a Certificate of Authenticity with all our products, along with photographic proof, holograms and videos of private signing sessions with the top stars.

Yet every day we’re asked if our products are really signed by the players. It seems all the facts on our website are often not enough. People regularly call and email us to express their concerns – they want to be reassured that they can trust us and from our side it becomes about engaging with them on an emotional level.

One of the things today’s digital marketers do is create ongoing dialogue between brands and their audiences. Traditional advertising shouts a consistent message with a megaphone while a smart brand strikes up a two-way conversation. Consumers want to know more about the products, causes and companies to which they choose to give their money. They’re looking for an emotional connection and digital marketing can bring this to life.

It’s also made me think about authenticity on a personal level. My wife is the communications director of a social enterprise called Leaders’ Quest, which works with leaders from all walks of life who want to use their unique influence to create positive change in the world. They talk to their communities about the importance of authenticity and how real leadership shines through when someone is genuine and true to themselves.

Most people are quick to spot self-interest and false charm – you only have to look to Lance Armstrong on how not to do it. The most successful leaders I know are genuine, honest and great at empathy.

Authenticity isn’t about being good and worthy, it’s about being who you are, warts and all. Personal authenticity is only achieved when people are honest with themselves. Brené Brown, in her TED Talk The Power of Vulnerability, describes how showing vulnerability allows people to connect with others on a human level. As brands develop their willingness to have open conversations, they will find ways to connect more deeply with their audience.

 

This blog was first published by Zone Digital on their Digital Distractions email newsletter in 2014.