TwitchCon attendees gather around State Farm's arcade game consoles

Gamification, Influencers, Photo-ready Spaces: Three Tips for Activating at Fan Cons

“You have to show up where your customers are and not expect, especially in the insurance category, for them to come to you.”

–Alyson Griffin, Head of Marketing, State Farm

Stepping into a fan convention can be like entering a new world. When thousands of people unite under a banner of shared interests, they feel empowered to express their true selves and engage with like-minded attendees, and it can be transportive.

Fan cons are also dynamic. They represent every corner of pop culture, from video gaming and livestreaming to horror and sci-fi to comics and anime, and serve as themed hubs for meetups, workshops, shopping, content gathering and, above all, community. More and more, brands are infiltrating these spaces to tap into a growing attendee segment of Gen Zers and gamers who are excited to take their fandoms offline and engage IRL with fellow fans and the creators they follow.

Activating at a fan con is all about finding the right audience for your brand, even if it seems like a stretch. How does an insurance company like State Farm engage Gen Z? The brand has been activating at TwitchCon since 2019, for one. Read on for three tips from State Farm and brands across tech and entertainment that have found their niche at fan cons.


Create gamified experiences.

PC gaming brand OMEN made its debut at Anime Expo in Los Angeles last year with an enchanting booth experience that invited its target audience of Gen Z lifestyle gamers to embark on an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure-style journey. Upon entering, attendees registered an RFID wristband on an OMEN device and then moved through a series of portals, each with a prompt designed to help them discover their individual Spirit of Fun: Magic, Adventure or Play, symbolized by a pin they could take away at the end.

Across three themed rooms, fans used their wristbands to interact with touchpoints by scanning them on colorful “jewels,” with brand ambassadors stationed in each portal to help guide the experience. Fans at home could engage with the activation, too. OMEN deployed a series of YouTube videos that mimicked the in-person, prompt-driven expedition and ultimately designated a Spirit of Fun (and accompanying graphic) to participants upon their completion of the experience. (Agency: Infinity Marketing Team) –K.S.

infinity-marketing-hp-omen-anime-fan entering portal

OMEN made its debut at Anime Con after discovering an overlap between lifestyle gamers and anime fans.

Understanding gamers’ competitive spirit, State Farm developed a retro-style video game based on its IP for TwitchCon 2023 in Las Vegas. In Jake’s Jingle Quest, players used a joystick and button to guide a 2D Jake from State Farm through a neighborhood, collecting “Sound Notes” (a reference to the brand’s jingle) to bring a block party back to life, while avoiding storm clouds.

At several arcade cabinets in the 20-foot by 30-foot space, attendees battled it out for prizes and the chance to get on a large leaderboard screen looming over the booth. State Farm encouraged repeat play by offering three custom Jake from State Farm collectible pins, earned with each game attempt. Across three days, the brand saw more than 10,000 Jake’s Jingle Quest games played, driving brand awareness among Gen Z and creating a relationship that could lead to insurance policies in the future. (Agency: Infinity Marketing Team)


Bring in influencers for meet-and-greets and content gathering.

Jake from State Farm holds a pin at TwitchCon

State Farm brought its popular spokesman, Jake from State Farm, to TwitchCon to entice Gen Z.

State Farm’s TwitchCon booth also hosted special appearances from content creators Khleo Thomas, Lana Rae and LuluLuvely, in addition to brand icon Jake from State Farm. A schedule at the booth let attendees know when their favorite influencers would be available for in-person meet-and-greets.

“Every year, we evaluate gaming talent to see who’s aligned with our brand, what is their reach and what’s their persona, because we’re trying to match the vibe of the experience,” says Alyson Griffin, head of marketing at State Farm.

When PBS exhibited at VidCon Baltimore last year for the event’s first showing on the East Coast, the brand created an immersive ocean booth environment to promote “Spy in the Ocean, A Nature Miniseries.” With VidCon offering the opportunity to reach fans in the 14- to 20-year-old age group, PBS invited in TikTokers Mamadou Ndiaye (known as Casual Geographic with 16.1 million followers) and TrashCaulin (with 2.2 million followers), as well as Joe Hanson, host of “Be Smart,” a science education show from PBS Digital Studios.

The three influencers were on-site at different points throughout the VidCon Baltimore weekend, sharing posts of their experiences interacting with attendees and animatronic marine animals featured in the show. Post-event, the brand leveraged the influencer content on social to promote the series throughout its four-week run. (Agency: MAP360 Collective)


Design spaces with Instagram in mind.

Meta's Instagram Creator Lounge full of whimsical props like a swan boat and arcade

The Instagram Featured Creator Lounge at VidCon was designed with social sharing in mind. (Photo credit: Marissa Joy Photo)

Meta got creative with its Instagram Featured Creator Lounge at VidCon 2023 in Anaheim, CA. Splashing the social network’s signature color palette all over the space was just the tip of the iceberg, as the brand went all in on meme- and trend-inspired props—including a goat statue wearing a hot pink “G.O.A.T.” cap, a disco ball planter, neon emoji signs and a red inflatable tube man flopping around—to encourage attendees to capture dynamic photos and Reels.

Around every corner, a photo op was available. Instagrammable furnishings extended throughout the lounge, featuring a full-size swan boat, a larger-than-life gummy bear, gold metallic couches with animal-print pillows and an extra-long yellow wiener dog bench positioned in front of a giant illuminated Instagram logo on the wall. The intentionally designed content-gathering space was built from Meta’s research insights that highlighted the appeal of retro décor, games and color schemes among creators.

“The whole space was intended to be interactive, so we had quite literally thousands of prompts throughout that were intended to be played with, supposed to be hands-on,” says Chris Watters, head of experiential marketing, Americas at Meta. “You could mix and match, and use those for playing, making content or interacting with people.” (Agency: MKG)

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