What comes to mind when you picture a San Diego Comic-Con attendee? Is it a comic book “geek” with a poster tube slung across his shoulder? A film buff in a movie t-shirt and cargo shorts? Or is it an avid gamer with a Mountain Dew in hand?
Every year, Comic-Con grows exponentially with 130,000 attendees expected for SDCC in 2014. That’s a lot of people walking the exhibit hall floor and standing in line outside of Hall H. More and more people from all over the world are making their way to the convention, giving brands the opportunity to market to a diverse audience of consumers.
And, diversity is the name of the game. Aside from the usual suspects, here are a few people at Comic-Con that brands might just be overlooking.
The Casual Observers
It’s no exaggeration to say that Comic-Con takes over San Diego’s Gaslamp District. For those of us that work downtown, a quick walk puts us smack dab in the middle of all the madness. It’s not uncommon for people to use their lunch breaks to see the Zombie Walk or score some free swag. By setting up camp in the Gaslamp, whether an activation or simply handing out swag or promotional materials, brands can market to a plethora of people who may not be going to Comic-Con but, still want to join in on the fun.
In addition to us cubicle jockeys, San Diego’s Gaslamp District is a major tourist and nightlife attraction. Throughout the week of Comic-Con, many brands like Mashable and Wired sponsor parties at local nightclubs and even host their own special events.This year, MTV’s Fan Fest & Fandom Awards with Linkin Park will be held at Petco Park. With people from all over Southern California making the trip down to party, brands have a great opportunity to reach a diverse audience that ranges from young professionals to tech and entertainment industry insiders.
The Comic-Con Family
There is nothing more adorable than a little cosplayer. NOTHING. And, for every tiny Batman, chances are that a dressed-up Dad and stressed-out Mom are not too far behind.
2014 will be the 44th San Diego Comic-Con since the event began in 1970 and those that attended the convention as kids are now all grown up and bringing their families along for the ride. Brands like Nickelodeon are capitalizing on the trend by promoting family-friendly, fan favorites like The Legend Of Korra and their revamp of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Dads love Comic-Con and jump at the chances to share their interests with their kids. Hit them where it hurts, right in the nostalgia bone, and they’ll feel like a kid again.
Moms attending the convention might just have a different mentality. Navigating the claustrophobic crowds and trying keep her family from being separated amidst the chaos can be exhausting. If you can make her day with a branded, well-placed massage station, phone charger or water bottle, she just might love you for it.
Comic-Con is no longer a boys’ club. In recent years, more than 40% of convention attendees have been women and brands should definitely be taking notice. This doesn’t mean haphazardly adding more pink or shirtless “Booth Studs” to their presence at the event. It means offering authentic activations, promotions, panels and properties that will directly connect with the growing number of women exploring the exhibit floor.
Embracing the trend, major studios are promoting properties that target female audiences like Twilight, Hunger Games and ABC’s Once Upon A Time. Other brands are evolving long-standing properties to extend their appeal to the women in the crowd.In fact, Marvel Comics just announced that the new Thor will be a woman in the comics. Rule 63 for the win!
In addition to activating female fans, brands can also help the cause for women’s rights at Comic-Con. Advocacy group, GeeksForCONsent, is currently petitioning for San Diego Comic-Con to create a formal anti-harassment policy in order to stop sexual harassment at the event. By signing and promoting the petition, brands can play a part in making sure that the convention is a safe and secure event for women.
The growth in diversity at Comic-Con is great for the conference and brands alike. With so many people attending the convention and even more following on social media, #SDCC will be trending hot all week long. Whether it’s sourcing content from UGC or leveraging the latest Comic-Con announcements as a springboard for social conversations, brands need to be paying close attention to Comic-Con because their consumers are definitely tuned in and ready to engage.