Comic-Con Marketing Ideas Proven to Make Your Brand a Hero

“Before creation itself, there were six singularities. Then the universe exploded into existence, and the remnants of these systems were forged into concentrated ingots… Infinity Stones. These stones, it seems, can only be brandished by beings of extraordinary strength.”

– “The Collector,” Disney Marvel Comics character

Infinity Stones are a focus in Avengers: Infinity War, one of the most anticipated comic movies of 2018. It will feature villain Thanos on a quest to collect all the Infinity Stones and gain powers to take over the galaxy. A trailer teases two in his possession, leaving fans on the edge of their seats. Will he collect them all, or will the Avengers stop him in his tracks?

The mysterious and much-anticipated Soul stone is the sixth and final stone. It has yet to make an appearance in any Marvel film, unlike the other five – Space, Mind, Reality, Power and Time. Each of these Infinity Stones provides its possessor unique capability. And, for the Soul stone, as one might assume, that ability is to control and even steal peoples’ souls. For the Comic Con crowd, getting closer to these franchises and storylines is what the convention is all about.

As event marketers and agencies prepare to wow Comic Con 2018 attendees, stealing souls will not be on the agenda. However, brands will be on a quest to capture attendees minds and hearts. Powerful Comic Con marketing ideas will allow them to show their brand’s extraordinary strengths.

Five Comic Con Marketing Ideas to Prove Brand’s Strength

Like the five Infinity Stones listed above (Space, Mind, Reality, Power and Time), these Comic Con marketing ideas can give brands the powers they seek.

1. Meet people in another SPACE.

Come mid-July, San Diego will be abuzz with people, even outside the convention center. This gives brands an audience anywhere they go, making city streets, shopping areas and more prime spots to engage consumers. And, it’s why, in previous years, event marketers and agencies have found success with street teams.

At Comic Con 2014, Pizza Hut and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles partnered to promote their latest offerings. For the pizza brand, that was its Cheesy Bites menu, and for the crime-fighting reptiles, it was their upcoming film. To create awareness and build excitement, the brands set up shop outside the Comic Con convention center. The activation featured a giant, live-action pizza thrower, much like the Turtles’ pizza-throwing van. And, on top, passersby could do just that – use a cannon to shoot fake pizzas at enemy targets. Down below, they could refuel with real pizza from Pizza Hut.

Another street team example comes from Comic Con 2017. It’s when a group of blondes in black leather boots and short, black trench coats hit San Diego streets to promote the 2017 movie “Atomic Blonde.” The women, dressed as the main character played by Charlize Theron, gave invites for a film screening to those who stopped to watch their parade.

These examples show the creativity and range that street team marketing can offer brands. Plus, it’s a great means for those with no Comic Con presence to still get in front of the crowds and take advantage of the excitement.

2. Help attendees escape REALITY. 

Considering the out-of-this-world content of Comic Con, it’s no surprise the use of virtual reality and other event tech is nothing new. It was 2014 when TV network Fox used Oculus Rift to promote its “Sleepy Hollow” series. The technology allowed attendees to meet Ichabod Crane, who eventually chopped their heads off. And, to commemorate the experience, participants took home a photo of their head lying on the ground, which was likely shared on social media to extend Fox’s reach.

At last year’s convention, also full of techy experiences, the “Blade Runner 2049” experience promoting the movie of the same name was a standout. To get in on the action, guests sat in vibrating movie chairs and strapped on VR headsets. It was then they became blade runners and embarked on a chase, starting in Los Angeles and ending in a crash on top of a building. Yet, use of VR and other event tech isn’t just for TV and movie networks. Brands in other industries can transport Comic Con attendees just as easily, whether to their facilities or another faraway destination. And, wouldn’t it be cool to pass Iron Man or Deadpool on the way?

3. Immerse the MIND.

The “Blade Runner 2049” experience was only partly successful due to use of VR tech. That’s because, when participants took off their headsets, the activation was far from over. Instead, they found one of the walls missing to reveal the virtual crash scene they’d just encountered. Police officers were on-site to ask questions and then remove people from the crime scene. From there, they entered a bar, full of actors and film props, and faced other run-ins with police. A final destination – another bar – allowed them to relax and relive the experience over shots of Johnnie Walker.

Other notable 2017 immersive fan experiences were executed by HBO, in promotion of “Westworld,” and personal care brand Schick. The latter launched Hydro Escape, which featured an escape room based on its comic book, “Schick Hydrobot and the Transformers.” The plot followed that of the comic and had participants on a hunt to find a missing scientist, using props, clues and hologram technology. Those who were successful left with Schick swag. Yet, for all these brands, the success was in their storytelling, which Forbes says is the key to a good immersive experience.

4. Harness the POWER of simple fun.

With many brands upping their games to provide the best immersive experiences, attendees will need some simple fun. Smart brands who take this path are thinking outside-the-box to fill the void.

Amazon, to promote its series, “The Tick,” offered a multi-room experience for any level of entertainment its guests desired. In the Amazon Prime Member Lounge, they could stream the series’ pilot episode. Using a custom mural by Matty Mo, “The Most Famous Artist,” they could snap a selfie to share on Instagram. Or, they could get more active with a scavenger hunt based on “The Tick.” It’s safe to say Amazon’s street team, Team Tick, also drove traffic to its experience, helping people escape the sun.

Another fun activation was held by Buzzfeed and The CW in the form of “The Best Damn Superhero Party.” The costumed event featured games, giveaways, an airbrushed tattoo station, appetizers, drinks and a GIF booth. And, judging by the photos, fun was had by all.

5. Transport them to another TIME.

Comic books and superhero movies aren’t just for kids. In fact, 45% of Comic Con attendees are 30 and up, with 7% over the age of 49. And, these people have likely been fans for a while. So, why not play up on their feelings for nostalgia? Event marketers and agencies can create emotional connections this way, especially with millennials, who are a core group of attendees.

At Comic Con 2016, Bandai America did this for Power Rangers fans in support of its new movie. On the convention center floor, the brand offered limited edition merchandise and revealed new figures, as well as older ones.

Last year, TV network Nickelodeon gave attendees a look back at its shows of the 90s. This was to promote its brand, NickSplat, which airs on TeenNick and features programming of yesteryears. Attendees walked away with vintage swag, featuring “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Rugrats,” “Double Dare” and “Good Burger.” And, the nostalgic feelings created were estimated to result in over 147,000 reactions on social media, proving the strength of Comic Con marketing on brands both old and new.

At Elevate Staffing, we have the services and people global brands rely on to show their strengths. Contact us to discuss your Comic Con marketing ideas or other activations.

Author: Kelly Springs-Kelley

Kelly Springs-Kelley is the Marketing Director at Elevate Staffing. When she's not creating content or pondering the future of in-person consumer engagement, Kelly can be found hiking the mountains of Arizona with her 2 kids and 3 dogs.


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