How FX’s ‘Living Garden’ Surprised and Delighted Fans at Comic-Con

#FXSDCC 2022_makeup station

“AHS” fans could register to get their makeup done like the dolls from the series at the #FXSDCC activation, complete with cracks in their “porcelain.”

FX Networks’ “Fearless” mantra served as a call to action at San Diego Comic-Con this year, where the brand invited brave souls to explore a 100,000-square-foot walkable labyrinth filled with twists, turns and terrors. Located across from the Hilton San Diego Bayfront, the immersive footprint wove some of FX’s most popular series together into a single #FXSDCC activation that had a little something for everyone. And, since EM had a chance to tour the space in person, we’re here to tell you that the jump-scares and quirky character interactions were right on the money. Here’s the lowdown.

Right from the get-go, droves of eager fans lined up to participate in the experience. Once inside, they were encouraged to navigate the eerie garden environment at their own pace, and met countless photo moments, delights and frights along the way, from walking trees to real-life versions of the “dolls” from “American Horror Stories,” (who will forever haunt our dreams). To EM, it genuinely felt like a garden maze (one staffer told us they got temporarily lost the morning of opening day) and included plenty of surprise and delight moments, encounters with strange characters and audio piped in to enhance the creepy factor. Custom giveaways, like a “You’re a Doll” compact mirror, were also part of the mix.

“The concept is that the garden has come to life. You never really know what to expect, so it offers that sense of discovery that fans really enjoy,” says Kenya Hardaway, svp-integrated promotions, multi-platform marketing, at FX Networks. “We want to have an opportunity for the fans to get as close to their favorite shows as possible. And this kind of [activation] allows them to do that. It’s what we strive for.”

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Among myriad #FXSDCC touchpoints were makeup stations where artists from “AHS” recreated the porcelain doll look for registered participants, real-life roaming dolls and their lavish banquet table filled with rotting food; a photo op with a leaf-covered “Mayans M.C.”-inspired motorcycle; a sound sculpture crafted with a blend of 3D-printing tech and avant-garde industrial elements used to showcase the network’s range of sci-fi and horror content; a “Little Demon Den” where FX hosted an experiential screening event; and kiosks featuring an identity quiz used to create customized profiles for fans with content recommendations.

Then there was Nadja’s San Diego, a vampire night club (yes, you read that right), which served as a replica set from the fourth season of “What We Do in the Shadows.” Before entering the club, we chatted with humorous “bouncers” and scanned a QR code to ensure we later received a 360-degree video asset. Then we went inside and shook what our mama gave us, with plenty of encouragement from nearby brand ambassadors. Worth noting: The air conditioning inside Nadja’s—a premium at Comic-Con—offered a welcome, if brief, reprieve from the heat.

On the way out of the experience, fans could snag custom-embroidered swag, like bucket hats, and spin a roulette wheel to win bottles of “Little Demon Garlic Hot Sauce.”

“We try to stay ahead of the curve as far as what are the kinds of experiences people are going to want to participate in? And what are the experiences that are true to our brand and our shows that will serve us well and excite the fans?” says Hardaway. “This is a great opportunity to get a lot of fan feedback. We have a good understanding, year-to-year, of what they’re enjoying, what works, what they wish we’d do differently. And it’s something we take seriously because at the end of the day, it’s a huge investment of time and resources… So Comic-Con is a big one for us because it’s an amazing opportunity to be around the fans, which is unique.” Agency: Creative Riff.

Explore the #FXSDCC Labyrinth:

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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