It’s not just for nerds, at least not anymore. Over the last decade, the annual convention known as Comic Con International, held in sunny San Diego, has evolved into one of the most important and most media covered pop culture events in the world. Boasting well over 100,000 attendees over four frenetic days each year, Comic Con International has inspired homegrown Comic Con conventions in major cities across the nation. It’s also one of the biggest marketing opportunities imaginable, offering direct engagement with an influential consumer base eager for new products. A week after the end of this year’s Comic Con International in San Diego, here are the top three brand activations that took advantage in a creative way.
Sharknado Flash Mob
Even in sunny San Diego, Comic-Con fans were buzzing about the forecast for Sharknado III: Oh HELL No! To celebrate the third installment of the cult movie series, SyFy played up to the film’s outrageous premise of c-list celebrities battling flying killer sharks by staging flash mobs on the streets outside the convention center. Event staff donned shark suits and marched in mock protest, complete with bullhorns and picket signs warning “United We Stand, Divided We Get Eaten By Flying Sharks,” stopping to pose for pictures and give out free swag to passersby. By embracing Sharknado’s spirit of campy fun and high energy, SyFy made a big splash at this year’s event.
Limitless Coffee Shop
At events, free is always good, even if it’s something as basic as coffee and wifi access. CBS took that simple approach for their understated but effective campaign for the new drama Limitless, taking over local cafe Lion Coffee for the day and providing patrons free coffee, internet and phone-charging stations. While sipping their coffee and checking e-mails, people could watch a screen featuring the Limitless trailer or listen in as a local radio station interviewed the show’s cast live. Providing a useful service for free, no matter how small, can be a smart way to increase customer engagement.
Few things are more effective in branding than a recognizable character — even if that character is a villainous criminal mastermind. Fox increased awareness for the new season of the series Gotham, based on the Batman comics, by enlisting an army of models dressed as The Penguin to take over the streets outside Comic Con. Sporting dapper suits and his signature umbrella, the Penguin mini-mob greeted fans, posed for pictures and generated a buzz around the character who is slated to become a major presence in the new season. In order to introduce a new version of a familiar face, Fox used event staff to maximize exposure in a fun way.