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How Brands Make Their Own Fan Con Outside The Convention Center




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A larger-than-life exhibit on" The Experience, "an offsite shoot at the San Diego Comic-Con 2018. Jorge Vargas / Granddesign [19659002] Im Last month, fans filled the corridors of the San Diego Convention Center and the streets of the surrounding Gaslamp District, making the San Diego Comic-Con one of the most popular pop culture events in the world. Outside the official activities of Con, the number of visitors is huge. These "activations", as they are known in the trade, are becoming a big part of the convention experience and a way for brands to connect with customers in one more controlled environment than the crowded, chaotic show floors of the Big Cons.

Activations glorified by one From a product demonstration to a complete product, amu Sement Park Style Ride, Zombie Chase or high-tech virtual reality experience give fans the opportunity to immerse themselves in their favorite entertainment features. Often the lines for a highly regarded activation are as long as the lines for convention-exclusive collectibles or celebrity autographs.

Activations have been a mainstay of SDCC for much of the past decade and have spread to other major pop culture conventions the capacity of their exhibit halls and are looking for new ways to accommodate the swelling crowd of fans, some of whom only have passes for a day or two of a four-day event, or just locals and their families who are curious about all this excitement. Well done, activations can contribute to the energy of the official congress and relieve congested venues. But they have to put a fine line between complementing the host event, competing for time and money of the participant, exaggerating participants with overly aggressive advertising and spreading the chaos of the congress into the surrounding neighborhood.

One company specializing in developing this experience is Granddesign, an out-of-home and experience marketing firm that has worked with brands for fanzentrierte activations in recent years. This year at the San Diego Comic-Con, they debuted an offsite venue called "The Experience," a collection of 1

6 brand activations in a parking lot across from the convention center, alongside Petco Field. The Experience hosted two evening screenings, concerts and daily eSports contests. There were nearly a dozen food trucks and a beer garden, along with stalls selling discount coupons and other loot. Participating brands included Facebook, Marvel, the Discovery Channel, Samsung, Nestlé, Pepsi and Microsoft.

"We wanted something unique," said Aaron Gaeir, founder / CEO of Granddesign. "Fan conventions offer many activations and engagements with brands, but no one had brought everything together to create a place beyond the drawbacks." He said the goal is to create a portable, scalable offsite experience that can serve the same coveted pop culture fanatic demographic at events across the country.

According to Granddesign, their offsite attractions received more than 300,000 visits during the four days of Comic-Con (July 18-22), including over 104,000 visits on Saturday. The average stay was about 15 minutes, based on the company's tracking technology, and visitors who returned several times a day were counted only once. By comparison, the San Diego Comic-Con estimates its attendance at over 150,000 unique visitors (a measure that tends to under-represent SDCC's participation in comparison to other shows that normally report the number of tickets sold), that is, experience and others Offsite Activations

Offsite official offsets are usually precluded from requiring entry or selling goods so as not to compete with vendors paying to officially showcase at the con. How do brands get a return on a marketing investment that can be invested in millions of dollars for a few days? Gaeir says it's all about social media.

"Brands are finally realizing that creating unique experiences is the key to engaging with their other media," he said. "98 percent of the participants take photos or videos of their experiences and post them on their network, and brands can generate billions of impressions if activated with 20 or 30,000 unique visitors." It's a huge multiplier. "

As juicy as this chance sounds, they only exist for brands that already have a certain connection to the audience. Granddesign's Robert Ridgeway, who led The Experience, said he had to reject companies that wanted to have fun, but had nothing to offer in terms of excitement and content.

Ridgeway also emphasized the importance of hosting the convention organizers and supporting the primary purpose of the event, rather than just providing a feeding frenzy to commercial sponsors. "We had a few meetings with Comic-Con. We want to vote with them, be an extension of them, not a competitor," he said.

A spokesperson for Comic-Con International declined to comment on the organization's relationship with sponsors of offsite events.

Other events have stretched out for a more formal relationship, Gaeir said. ReedPOP, the commercial trade show company that operates the New York Comic Con, the PAX West and other major fan conventions worldwide, has traditionally been more active and brand partnerships than SDCC, which is a mission-oriented non-profit (albeit a highly successful ) is a). Granddesign plans to install a major offsite at PAX and NYCC this fall.

Although the company has nothing to say about NYCC, Ridgeway noted that the eSports and video game components of the SDCC Experience were surprisingly popular with fans, especially an exhibit that allowed amateur fans to compete against pros. He hinted that the company included this insight into its future plans.

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A larger-than-life exhibit on The Experience, an offsite shootout at the San Diego Comic-Con 2018. Jorge Vargas / Granddesign

Last month, fans filled the tunnels of the San Diego Convention Centers and the streets of the surrounding Gaslamp District, making the San Diego Comic-Con one of the world's busiest pop culture events. The data shows that more and more participants outside the official Con activities are watching the giant pop-up Attractions that build entertainment brands in nearby car parks, in parks and public spaces, as they are known in the trade, are becoming a larger part of the conference experience and a way for brands to engage with customers in a more controlled environment than that crowded, chaotic exhibition halls of the big deceivers.

Activations, all s From a glorified product demonstration to an amusement park, zombie hunt, or high-tech virtual reality experience, fans can immerse themselves in their favorite entertainment objects. Often the lines for a highly regarded activation are as long as the lines for convention-exclusive collectibles or celebrity autographs.

Activations have been a mainstay of SDCC for much of the past decade and have spread to other major pop culture conventions the capacity of their exhibit halls and are looking for new ways to accommodate the swelling crowd of fans, some of whom only have passes for a day or two of a four-day event, or just locals and their families who are curious about all this excitement. Well done, activations can contribute to the energy of the official congress and relieve congested venues. But they have to draw a fine line between complementing the host event, competing for time and money of the participant, exaggerating participants with overly aggressive advertising and spreading the chaos of the congress into the neighborhood.

A company specializing in the development of these experiences is Granddesign, an out-of-home and experience marketing firm that has been working with brands on fan-centered activations for several years. This year at the San Diego Comic-Con, they debuted an offsite venue called "The Experience," a collection of 16 brand activations in a parking lot across from the convention center, alongside Petco Field. The Experience hosted two evening screenings, concerts and daily eSports contests. There were nearly a dozen food trucks and a beer garden, along with stalls selling discount coupons and other loot. Participating brands included Facebook, Marvel, the Discovery Channel, Samsung, Nestlé, Pepsi and Microsoft.

"We wanted something unique," said Aaron Gaeir, founder / CEO of Granddesign. "Fan conventions offer many activations and engagements with brands, but no one had brought everything together to create a place beyond the drawbacks." He said the goal is to create a portable, scalable offsite experience that can serve the same coveted pop culture fanatic demographic at events across the country.

According to Granddesign, their offsite attractions received more than 300,000 visits during the four days of Comic-Con (July 18-22), including over 104,000 visits on Saturday. The average stay was about 15 minutes, based on the company's tracking technology, and visitors who returned several times a day were counted only once. By comparison, the San Diego Comic-Con estimates its attendance at over 150,000 unique visitors (a measure that tends to under-represent SDCC's participation in comparison to other shows that normally report the number of tickets sold), that is, experience and others Offsite Activations

Offsite official offsets are usually precluded from requiring entry or selling goods so as not to compete with vendors paying to officially showcase at the con. How do brands get a return on a marketing investment that can be invested in millions of dollars for a few days? Gaeir says it's all about social media.

"Brands are finally realizing that creating unique experiences is the key to engaging with their other media," he said. "98 percent of the participants take photos or videos of their experiences and post them on their network, and brands can generate billions of impressions if activated with 20 or 30,000 unique visitors." It's a huge multiplier. "

As juicy as this chance sounds, they only exist for brands that already have a certain connection to the audience. Granddesign's Robert Ridgeway, who led The Experience, said he had to reject companies that wanted to have fun, but had nothing to offer in terms of excitement and content.

Ridgeway also emphasized the importance of hosting the convention organizers and supporting the primary purpose of the event, rather than just providing a feeding frenzy to commercial sponsors. "We had a few meetings with Comic-Con. We want to vote with them, be an extension of them, not a competitor," he said.

A spokesperson for Comic-Con International declined to comment on the organization's relationship with sponsors of offsite events.

Other events have stretched out for a more formal relationship, Gaeir said. ReedPOP, the commercial trade show company that operates the New York Comic Con, the PAX West and other major fan conventions worldwide, has traditionally been more active and brand partnerships than SDCC, which is a mission-oriented non-profit (albeit a highly successful ) is a). Granddesign plans to install a major offsite at PAX and NYCC this fall.

Although the company has nothing to say about NYCC, Ridgeway noted that the eSports and video game components of the SDCC Experience were surprisingly popular with fans, especially an exhibit that allowed amateur fans to compete against pros. He said that the company included this insight into its future plans.


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