Comic-Con International: San Diego is a comic book convention, hosted in San Diego since 1970. The modest comic book convention, however, has grown tremendously in the past few years, becoming more than just a place to talk about comics. Comic-Con is a cultural icon, a show that is unique to San Diego. It’s a valuable opportunity for people who love and work in independent arts, comics, animation, video games, etc. to experience their virtual/imaginary world in real life.
My first experience with Comic-Con in 2002 was a complete culture shock. I couldn’t believe that people were so proud to dress up as their favorite comic hero and fight for freebies like t-shirts, pins, and rub-on tattoos. These promotional items essentially turn attendees into “walking advertisements” for TV shows, TV networks, movies, video games, and anything remotely related to the entertainment world – these advertisers have become ingrained in the annual experience that is Comic-Con.
Non-traditional ads have become a crucial part of the Comic-Con culture — the more swag one accumulates, the better, making this an essential marketing strategy for companies to tap into at the conference.
The most noticeable difference in marketing at Comic-Con this year, was the massive influx in social media promotions at the conference. In the past, companies gave out freebies and didn’t gain much back from the consumer, besides brand awareness. This year, companies took advantage of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and FourSquare combined with QR Code technology to engage attendees with the brand while also building their networks. I noticed a much stronger attempt to reach attendees through social media in conjunction with non-traditional ads. It’s no surprise that companies would tap into the power of social media to create buzz around a brand at this opportune time, but there were definitely a few key players whose social media strategies stood out to me.
Here are some key examples of companies that were using social media just right at Comic-Con this year:
Moral of the story, finding ways to market your brand at a huge conference like Comic-Con isn’t just about shamelessly promoting your brand everywhere, but it’s more about offering a special experience or exclusive offer to gain loyalty and support. When advertising is integrated into the overall cultural experience of the event, a company will get more fans who are more likely to act as a brand ambassador.
Did you attend Comic-Con this year? If you did, what did you think about the marketing? If not, what are some of the examples you’ve heard about?