San Diego Comic Con Needs To Expand Beyond The Convention Center

First let me say I was writing this at the same time Jordan posted his thoughts on Comic Con. After reading his input I totally agree. Comic Con was never meant to be about the trailers, or major studios. It’s more about the experience. Sitting in a convention filled with thousands of people that will get excited for the same things as you, but SDCC has grown and perhaps it’s time to expand outside the convention center.

Personally speaking the idea of withholding big trailers and events like this to a small crowd (6 thousand people in Hall H versus potentially millions elsewhere) makes no sense. Companies hire ad agencies and spend a ton of money finding audiences within their demographic. They spend a lot of money putting ads by things like the Superbowl or The Walking Dead simply because the audiences are massive. How much of that audience is actually their demographic?

 Suicide Squad Movie Cast Costumes

We have an event that has 150,000 people attending and countless people following the action online through social media, yet things are restricted. Not only do studios have this massive amount of eager people “watching” them, but they all fit entirely within their primary demographic. This is an advertiser’s heaven.  If it wasn’t, none of these companies would show up to begin with. (It’s true some studios are choosing to skip it, but then those studios turn around and host their own event with live streaming….Disney.)

If you are going to invite guests, put together marketing materials, and formulate a presentation; why not show it to the world? Trailers are trailers, and you should get it in front of as many eyes as possible. That’s why I suggest streaming major panels and events from the show. Put the trailers live, put the panels live, and let the world see it. This is your time to tell the world what you’ve been working on is so awesome.

“But people at the con will be mad!” Why? Because all their free stuff, experiences, and other goodies are not good enough? Personally when I went to SDCC I didn’t step foot inside Hall H a single time and I was more focused on panels involving comic books or animated shows. Now flip to E3 or Star Wars Celebration which were both entirely live streamed to the world. Did it stop people from going? Were people somehow not excited because said trailer wasn’t exclusive? Will people go back? Answer to all of that is it didn’t make a difference at all.

You could go further and showcase clips of movies or do other exclusives, but you can have a strict rule of no electronics period. Again this is what companies at E3 do. They showcase their game during a conference (normally a trailer or quick gameplay) then people that attend E3 actually get to play said game behind closed doors, no footage allowed. People at home get to see the latest game trailers, and people at the show get to play them. This translates by allowing people at SDCC to get exclusive footage or details that streams don’t get for an actual good reason. Perhaps said movie isn’t finished, or it was a test screening, etc…

 cc

 

Saying that such a thing “isn’t part of the marketing plans” is totally bogus. Make SDCC part of your plans! After all, it’s not like everything shown at E3 is released shortly following the show, so why do companies have trouble at SDCC? While at its core it is a fan service, the show has grown because of media coverage. The hype is real and there isn’t another platform (in this medium) with this much attention on it, so I don’t see why it’s being wasted.

If all else fails, hold conferences or events around SDCC. There are plenty of convention halls in hotels, and even a stadium nearby. (Conan did it!) They need to remember people at home are just as excited as the people at the convention. This year felt rather dull and not exciting as a viewer at home, which is bad not only for studios, but SDCC itself. Yet there was one shining part to me, Conan’s show. He was “live” at Comic Con, had a big Comic Con audience, had guests from the con, and it felt great. By making it more open and available, people WANT to go and see it in person.  

wonderwoman

My personal “fix” for SDCC is two things:

1: Conferences. I love them everywhere else. I loved the Star Wars Celebration ones, I love E3 ones, and people clearly tune in for these. Studios would absolutely benefit from hosting them and should make it part of their plans. Perhaps less studios will skip the show if they had this platform to build off of. Meanwhile people buying tickets simply for Hall H could possibly let others attend.

2: I would have SDCC itself have subscription services to panels. Obviously Hall H would be a little more costly, but by doing so it allows news to spread a little more easily and keeps SDCC “relevant.” I’d also invite places that cover pop-culture and entertainment news to do live coverage and stream all week.

Frankly, if you don’t want to show something to the world, then don’t bother bringing it. I’d rather have official footage and coverage of something than watching someone’s crappy cell phone footage, but I also want to see it period. You have everything ready so you might as well be in the spotlight for the world. SDCC has a capacity that fills up every year, so there are people all around the world that would love to go and see these things, but simply can’t. Why punish them? Why punish yourselves? Get into modern ages…. Stream it.