Every Day is Comic-Con

August 1, 2012 // By: // 1 Comment

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Greetings from San Diego Comic-Con! Well, technically Comic-Con ended a while ago, but my sleep patterns still haven’t recovered from it, so in a way it’s like I’m still there.

But in another way, we’re all still at Comic-Con. This was my first time attending SDCC as a PR pro after years of going as a fan, journalist and comic creator, and it’s striking how the show acts as both a marketer’s dream and nightmare simultaneously. It’s full (frightfully, literally full) of hardcore, engaged fans that loudly and proudly evangelize for the things they love.

If you look beyond the Star Wars outfits and cosplay swords, though, you’ll see that Comic-Con isn’t truly over. It’s still going — every day, everywhere. It’s really no different than the world we live in now: noisy, often over-stimulating and difficult to reach the right people over the general din. In that regard, Comic-Con contains lessons for even the non-geekiest brands about how to connect with their consumers in a crowded, overwhelming marketplace.

How do you Connect in a Crowded Space?

The key is creating a compelling and relevant experience that’s also authentic to your brand. If your fans have the ability to interact with your brand in a meaningful and unique way, they’ll seek you out themselves — whether that means liking a Facebook page or elbowing their way through thousands of fellow geeks to visit your booth.

Notice I said “relevant.” There’s always the temptation to tap into the energy of SDCC by shoehorning your brand into it, whether or it actually fits. “Try our widgets because…comic books or something!” This is the wrong lesson to take away from Comic-Con. With their Wolverine-esque heightened senses, true geeks can smell an opportunistic pretender from a mile away (or, roughly the size of the line to get into Hall H).

The real question is, how do you deliver that Comic-Con-like experience — the unique interaction with your brand that makes people feel like they’ve had a special experience that they couldn’t get anywhere else — to your own fans?

Tell a Story

On the floor of Comic-Con, our client Hasbro told an entire brand story in their booth, complete with exclusive toys, celebrity signings and giving excited fans the chance to meet the people who work on the properties they love.

Bring Your Brand to Life

Popular zombie comic book/TV adaptation The Walking Dead actually came to (un)life, taking over nearby sports stadium PetCo Park with “The Walking Dead Escape.” Fans could pay for the privilege of running an obstacle course where they had to dodge zombies…or pay even more to become one of the zombies attacking the other fans.

Offer an Exclusive Experience

Marvel Studios gave the fans who waited in line for Hall H a truly exclusive experience — the first viewing of footage from Iron Man 3, which, miraculously, still hasn’t leaked online. Sometimes, bragging rights are the best take-away you can get. Of course, nothing helps Marvel get the crowd pumped more than the inimitable Robert Downey Jr., whose funktacular entrance to the Hall, fortunately, is available to view online.

So how do you take that experience off the convention floor? That’s what you need to figure out for your brand in a world where Comic-Con lasts 365 days a year. And I thought I was exhausted after just five days in San Diego…

About the Author

Justin Aclin

Justin joined Hunter PR’s lifestyle practice after nine years as an editor and writer for consumer and trade publications. Justin has worked on some of the world’s biggest entertainment properties, including Transformers and The Avengers, and has also written comic books and graphic novels for several companies, including Dark Horse Comics.
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