Over the years I’ve attended so many comic cons that my body seems to order press badges even in my sleep. I’ve been very lucky to attend some brilliant conventions with some superb guests. But what annoys me the most (as well as the majority of the fans) is when convention marketing managers take guest hype into overdrive.
I remember a few years ago when a particular convention mentioned a huge guest, one that would change the course of con history and it turned out to be someone incredibly mediocre. The way in which the build-up was worded made it sound as thou the resurrected Pope John Paul was going to roll in on the popemobile and perform a breakdancing routine. Sadly, this wasn’t the case.
Roll the years forward and not much has changed in the way of over-hyping guests to drive sales. MCM has been guilty of it in the past but are now bringing in high-calibre guests that are now marketed with a level head. Showmasters however, have thrown lighter fluid onto the fire with their latest guest announcement and fans are NOT happy.
On March 23 this FaceBook post (see above) was posted on the official Showmasters page. Suddenly the hype train was set in motion as this is a convention that has hosted the likes of Stan Lee, Michael J Fox, Sigourney Weaver, Benedict Cumberbatch and more over the last few years. To label this particular guest as ‘legendary’ and ‘a very important guest’ to make ‘the best con ever’ got my blood pumping. More posts followed hyping the guest up as one of the cons biggest attendees. My mind was racing thinking it could be a Marvel guest, it’s the anniversary year, Robert Downey Jnr met the criteria in the list. Could it be? Turned out the answer was a big ‘hell no’.
Showmasters have some great guests lined up this year such as Megan Fox, Jason Momoa, Peter Capaldi, Ian Somerhalder and more. By naming this particular guest as the one person to make the con the best one ever is a bold statement. Some of the biggest names in the industry have graced this incredible convention before, so who could it be..
So it was Christopher Eccleston. A man who played Dr.Who so at least Doctor Who fans will be happy to see him, but for the majority, it was sadly a letdown. If the hype-train of the social media team had steadied the rails and built this guest up fairly then there would be no backlash. But a pretty over-excited social media manager has caused quite a stir leaving fans annoyed. Even if you were excited by the news and went to the website, the prices were astronomical. Someone who isn’t really widely known as ‘legendary’ (sorry Christopher) by any means is charging £95 for an autograph and £85 for a photo! Christopher is a great guest don’t get me wrong but the pricing and the hype before the reveal were just too much.
Keep in mind Walker Stalker has purposely inflated autograph and photograph prices and you can meet Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus or Jeffrey Dean Morgan for less. Stars much more relevant in popular culture at this current moment in time. In addition, at past events, guests like Christopher Lloyd were only charging £30 for their autograph. Pamela Anderson was charging under £50 for a photo last year!
As someone who specialises in marketing, I can’t fault the work that the guys over at Showmasters do for their wonderful events. The guests are great, the atmosphere is great but this one mistake of over-hyping guests (Comic-Con marketing etiquette 101). In addition, labelling the con as the best one ever when the calibre of guests in the past far-outweigh the current celebrity attendees have left quite a few with a sour taste.
What do you think about comic cons over-hyping guests to drive ticket sales? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below