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Comic-Con 2017 Recap

Every year a giant forms, powered by more attendees and more press than any other industry event, including the Emmys and the Oscars. Hollywood treks down to San Diego to meet up with over 125,000 dedicated fans and spend a few days by the beach at Comic-Con. What began as a small comic book convention in 1970 now holds the Guinness World Record as the largest pop culture festival in the world and as such is the largest promotional opportunity in the world for films and television shows.

What Cannes is to independent film, the Con is to commercial film and TV and especially the latter, with the event coming in mid-to-late July as it does. The opportunities for marketing, publicity and networking are seemingly limitless since everyone goes, including every major studio and network, managers and agents, talent, advertisers, transmedia companies and the global press. Social media are great for building up virtual contacts but there’s something to be said for actually showing up, shaking hands, posing for pictures and kibitzing with people. And if you have a world record crowd and you’re right by the ocean then so much the better.

Four HRTS Corporate members who made a big impression at this year’s Con were Warners Bros., Fox, Hulu and NBC.

WBTV - Riverdale

On Friday evening, the Warner Bros worldwide television marketing team under the direction of President and CMO Lisa Gregorian (HRTS member profile: http://blog.hrts.org/2011/09/membership-spotlight/hrts-member-profile-lisa-gregorian/) kicked things off in style with a rooftop bash at the Hard Rock and as with every year, they went all out. They had multiple areas branded around properties such as RIVERDALE and BIG BANG THEORY, with talent from those shows and many others not to mention a bonafide international superstar: Doug the Pug, who has nearly 3 million followers on Instagram and another million on Twitter. And the biggest hit of all was the WB Comic-Con survival kit: free food is good, free booze is better, but if it’s 90 degrees and you’ve been negotiating huge crowds all day then aspirin, hand sanitizer and Vitamin C are best. There are numerous industry parties throughout the year in Los Angeles but none quite like this, where everybody can relax and enjoy and remember some of the reasons they got into the business in the first place, up to and including Warners chieftain Kevin Tsujihara, who joined the festivities and graciously welcomed a steady stream of well-wishers.

Throughout the Con there were huge banners exhorting people to “get tested” for the X-gene, part of a brand activation for Fox’s new Bryan Singer-directed show THE GIFTED (http://www.fox.com/the-gifted) Later Friday night, Fox held a mutant-themed pool party at the Andaz with custom ice cream concoctions served up by geneticists in lab coats. And the agents of the Department of Mutant Affairs’ Sentinel Services Division (aka the bar) offered up creative cocktails including a ‘gene and tonic’ and ‘powerful punch’. A person who shall remain nameless tried the former and afterwards he felt, well, enhanced. He felt powerfully regenerated after a long day, although it didn’t go well when he tried to shoot laser beams out of his eyes.

Over at the Oxford Social Club, Hulu hosted an event for Seth Rogen’s new show, FUTURE MAN (https://www.hulu.com/future-man). The venue featured everything a time traveler would need to comfortably travel through time, including branded throw pillows (they’ll still have wicker chairs in the future). DJs pumped out electronic music while guests tried their hand at futuristic video games. It was a good crowd, with a mix of talent, execs and press, and everyone had a great time.

NBC closed things out in style on Saturday night with their annual party, held in honor of their new supernatural thriller MIDNIGHT, TEXAS (https://www.nbc.com/midnight-texas). The full cast was in attendance, along with executive producers Monica Owusu-Breen and HRTS member and panelist David Janollari. The event was appropriately situated in a dark, underground room, with castmember Peter Mensah excitedly relating how he got to wrestle a tiger, a digital tiger created by the same VFX wizards who worked on LIFE OF PI. One of the joys of the Con is that, and let’s be honest, there are not many places or events where you can speak with someone who smacked down a tiger. Across the street and throughout the convention, NBC created an immersive fan experience with their walkthrough haunted house, situated in a prime location directly across from the convention center. Ghosts, goblins, witches and vampires gave a great sense of the show, of the world they are inviting viewers to live in.

Comic-Con strikes the perfect balance between business and pleasure. It offers something for everyone and with the enormous number of passionately engaged fans plus the concentration of Hollywood types, there are few to no places better suited to promoting your content or to building your network. See you at the shore.


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