Brands ride on Comic Con?s super powers

MUMBAI: ?Comic Con didn?t run profitably for us for the past four years, but with how things went this year, we are hoping to break even and touch profit very soon,? said Comic Con India founder Jatin Verma, as the curtains came down on the biggest comic  gala in Mumbai.

With Mumbai Comic Con 2015 enjoying a footfall of over 30,000, Verma?s wish doesn?t seem far off, which is saying something in a country where the culture of Comic Conventions has a long way to catch up with its international counterparts. 

This year even though approximately 5000 more people turned up at the event compared to last year, ticket sales isn?t  the only factor to the convention?s commercial success this year. Comic Con 2015 has been able to get several brands on board.

?This is the first time we have actually brought in sponsors on board. For the last few years we didn?t really pitch ourselves to sponsors, because even internationally Comic Con is not presented and driven by any brand. That is because conventions in US market are not as rare. But knee jerk reaction to such an event in India is different. Therefore, we had to amend our business model and expand our sources of revenue by actively creating outright sponsorships. We created a special team within our advertising and sales department that actively sought out sponsors.?

Bringing in Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 was the biggest turn round for this year?s Comic Con, says Verma. Maruti Suzuki as the main sponsor fit the bill as 60 per cent of the people attending fall under the automobile brand?s target consumer base.

?There are quite a few brands on board with us this year but our biggest sponsor for this year is Maruti Suzuki. We have exhibitor tie up with Myntra. We have also tied up with Ola, where in return for our partnership, the cab providers offer free rides to anyone in Mumbai to attend Mumbai Comic Con 2015,? Verma adds.

Additionally the event also saw attractive booths from AXN wherein the channel showcased its popular shows that enjoy cult following in an interactive way. The anticipation for the seventh installment in the epic franchise series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens could also be seen as several brands rode the Star Wars bandwagon throughout the event.

What puts brands at an advantage with their association with the convention is the ability to reach out to their target consumers through Comic Con, is the niche crowd that comes to the events in great number. 

By associating with Comic Con, brands get to make an impactful impression on consumers by presenting them an opportunity to connect with their favourite character, series or creator. Something that Comic Con calls, ?Give your brand super power.?

?We get close to 150,000 people coming to the conventions across the country in a year. The demography that visit Comic Con spend Rs 2000 - 3000 on an average whenever they attend. From the middle class to upper middle class and above, those who visit are mostly young college goers and professionals in their mid and late 20s. Moreover, on an average they spend 6 to 7 hours at the event. Therefore, in return for their association with Comic Con, they not only get over a lakh of eyeballs, they can bond with their consumers by riding on the fanfare the visitors have for their super hero,? says Verma, adding that what separates Comic Con from a general promotion at a mall is the consumer engagement.

?Be it a start up or a well established brand, it is a great opportunity for them to connect with an audience that is focused and ready to engage. Especially going by return on investment (ROI) when you compare the cost of getting that engagement, Comic Con gives brands such eyeballs much cheaper,? he adds.

While Verma doesn?t reveal exact figures of the convention?s sponsorship deals and other brand partnerships, he does give an estimate on the total revenue that is covered by sponsorship. 

?The contribution of the sponsors towards the entire expenditure to setup Comic Con entirely depends on the brands on board. While in general it would be 15 per cent, but an associate sponsorship contributes around 30 per cent of the total cost,? he shares.

The cost also includes marketing cost incurred by the organisers for the convention. In terms of promotions, Comic Con naturally went digital heavy, as the target group are active netizens. ?We don?t have a huge budget for marketing, so we had to use the resources we had at our disposal. Luckily we have a good ecosystem in place that helps us get more visibility. We rely a lot on on-ground activations and word of mouth to reach out to our target group,? Verma says.

However, having said that he shares that a considerable amount of the total budget was kept aside for marketing. ?We keep about 20 to 30 per cent of our total spends on marketing, and sometimes even more depending on the city we are in,? he adds in parting.

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