If you’ve ever activated at a major fan convention, you already know that there are few attendee types as passionate, discerning—and vocal—as pop culture superfans. Brands that aim to bring popular intellectual properties to life face the highest level of scrutiny from con-goers, who expect interactive, fan-first experiences that provide moments of surprise and delight, but never stray from “canon.”
San Diego Comic-Con, of course, is the supreme ruler of international fan cons, and that makes building brand experiences at the event a high-stakes venture. But it’s a challenge that AMC Networks, which has activated at the convention for many years as a means of engaging its “The Walking Dead” fans, embraces.
In this episode, Lauren Collins, vp-promotions, events and experiences at AMC Networks, shares how AMC built a meticulous recreation of the setting from its popular New Orleans-based series, “Interview with the Vampire,” at this year’s event, and how its internal teams and agency partners work tirelessly to earn a “check mark” from attendees at tentpole fan cons.
“These are some of the most passionate, most intelligent fans in the world, and they know your IPs,” says Collins. “COVID was challenging, but it also caused us to reframe the way we show up and we’re more impactful. We’re more strategic about where we find these audiences, and I think audiences appreciate when brands like us go the extra mile, and we put them in the story. They’re tired of getting marketed to; they want to be part of the experience… So there’s the narrative that we set up, and then we give fans their space to sort of tell their story.”
We also talk to Collins about the delicate dance of engaging superfans without alienating your other attendees, why “igniting the senses” is essential to a successful fan con activation, why premium, “sophisticated” event strategies are on her radar in the year ahead and what’s coming down the pike for AMC, which activated at New York Comic Con this past weekend.