Each year in July, over 130,000 pop culture fans from across the county come to sunny San Diego to experience San Diego Comic-Con. What once started out as a comic book convention with 100 people has turned into an experiential marketing mecca. It seems like every movie, tv and entertainment company is coming up with new and innovative ways to promote their brand at Comic-Con.

As a San Diego based experiential marketing company, GDX Studios has over a decade of experience producing events inside and around the Convention Center. As neighbors to Comic-Con and an award winning brand experience agency, we think every brand needs to consider a few key areas before deciding what and where to activate at San Diego Comic-Con 2021.

1) Determining the Budget

Getting an understanding of what things cost and how much budget is needed to meet your objectives are of utmost importance before taking on any SDCC project. While impactful programs can be executed with a wide range of budgets, having a clear idea of your available funds will help guide the choices made throughout the planning process. Additionally, your budget will often determine where your activation will live. 

2) Choosing the Right SDCC Location

Having a booth on the exhibit floor at Comic-Con is a benchmark moment for many brands.  Spaces are limited and in high demand for an event that sells out in minutes every year. If you aren’t a returning exhibitor, it would be best to get on the waiting list now.  Fortunately for those brands unable to activate on the show floor, the weekend is packed with people everywhere in the Gaslamp District. While the Convention Center is the most high profile area, it is far from the only option for high profile activations.

A growing trend with brands is putting on Comic-Con events outside the Convention Center – numerous options are available with the added bonus of being visible to non badge holders.

With countless restaurants, shops, hotels and clubs in the area, selecting the right one is crucial to the eventual success of your brand’s activation. Some of our favorite options (and most familiar) include: The Petco Park Interactive Zone, 5th Avenue Landing, restaurant takeovers, pop-up shops and various parking lots.

3) Permitting 

Within the city of San Diego, there are multiple jurisdictions and municipalities, many with their own permit process making it somewhat difficult for new brands. The most common types of permits we have seen at SDCC are:

  • Building permit from the City of SD
  • Port event permit
  • Fire Marshal special event permit
  • Food Handling permits

The permitting process in San Diego can be long and arduous. It’s best to get an early start as soon as your location is secured and the activation concept is finalized.

4) Advanced Testing

With all the time, money and energy spent working on your activation, the worst thing that could happen is for the experience not to turn out right. Be sure to build time into your production schedule to make sure everything is working properly before it’s packed up and shipped to Comic-Con. If your agency partner is not located nearby, having a virtual walkthrough is a great alternative to make sure everything feels right in a live setting.

5) Building a Team of Experts

Dynamic activations involve collaboration between multiple vendors, the venue and your brand. Putting together the right team to work on a project with constant and effective communication between all stakeholders ensures a successful activation.

If your event concept includes various elements (tech, talent, A/V, fabrication, staffing, etc..), finding an agency partner who can properly manage all vendors involved will make your life a lot easier. Partnering with the right agency from the start allows you to focus on your brand’s goals and objectives. The right agency will build a great team to bring your event to life, and then manage that throughout production and the eventual successful execution.

From ideation to execution, GDX Studios is here to help at any stage in the San Diego Comic-Con marketing process. If your brand is interested in executing something amazing at San Diego Comic-Con 2020, then let’s talk!