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Advertising at the Con – Part 2

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of our guest post by Gary Kelly, ad guy and Comic Con attendee. If you missed Part 1, check it out here.

Love it or hate it, advertising is a fact of life at SDCC. The movies, products and games hawked  during those four days are going to make big bucks. So how can you get a piece of the action? How can you make Comic Con advertising work for you?

What to Do

Free Entertainment

Panels inside the Con are free, but the minute you step outside, you’ll face cover charges and admission prices (W00tstock will set you back $35.00). So what do you do if your budget doesn’t allow for a little extra entertainment?

Enjoy a free show put on by Madison Ave. The Exhibit Hall is filled with free stuff to look at, play with and even win.

And that’s just the beginning. Right across Harbor Drive is a whole world of free stuff to gawk at. There are bands to listen to, giant posters to stare at and games where you can win seriously cool stuff. Last year you could hang out in a recreation of downtown South Park. Cirque du Soleil put on an amazing show to advertise itself. Cost to watch? Nada.

There’s always a lot to see during Con weekend. So if you’re one of the unlucky people who didn’t get a 4-day pass (like me) don’t go home early. Just spend a day enjoying the free entertainment.

Free Stuff

You blew your budget on badges, hotel and airfare. And you don’t have a dime left over for souvenirs. So you’re gonna come home from San Diego with nothing but a huge Visa bill.

Luckily, there’s a ton of free stuff that people are just handing out. Sure it’s got a logo on it. But it’s a logo you like. To them, it’s an ad, but to you, it’s a free souvenir. It starts with your hotel check-in. Unless you were really unlucky in the hotel lottery, you’re key card with be covered with images of some sci-fi franchise. The giant swag-bag they give you when you get your badges is likewise decorated. When you’re in the main hall, stay alert for random lines. Sometimes they are for autographs, but they might be for a free giveaway. And almost everything you get is a Comic Con exclusive.

Last year the only souvenir I paid for was a t-shirt. But I brought home so much stuff that my wife made me take it all to work.

Free Information

Want to know more about Marvel’s new titles? Or that cool toy company? They are more than wiling to take down your email address and send you info. Just don’t get carried away. See below.

Other Free Things

Hey you know those great shuttle buses that take you everywhere for free? Guess who pays for that? Showtime. In 2011, you could get a free pedicab rides just for uploading a picture of an Archer cosplayer to your Facebook page. Keep your eyes open and you can get a lot of free services just for a few moments of your time.

What Not to Do

Give away your email to everyone.

Unless you want to get a lot of spam, be careful about who you give your info to.

Click on weird QR codes

These little buggers are on the way out, but some advertisers still think they’re the future. Remember, a QR code will link you to a site. A site you probably know nothing about. If it’s on a WB poster, you’re probably cool. But watch put for codes in odd places.

Spend a lot of time waiting for some swag

Ok, I said you can get great free stuff at the Con. But it’s not THAT great. Don’t waste two valuable hours standing in line for a coffee mug you don’t really want.  I worked pretty hard to get a Cowboys and Aliens poster last year, and it’s still rolled up under my desk. Memories are more valuable than souvenirs.

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