Having launched as a niche gathering for comic-book collectors, Comic-Con International in San Diego is now one of the largest annual events for what used to be considered “geek” entertainment, and a presence is a must for any sci-fi, fantasy, or escapist films, TV shows, and games. But with so many big-budget titles and brands pulling out all the stops, it can be tough for a newer property to gain awareness.
Such was the challenge for Syfy’sDefiance, a new TV series and multiplayer online game. Working with agency Maxus, it opted to target attendees of July 2012’s Comic-Con not just at the convention itself but as soon as they arrived at the San Diego airport.
Digital boards, backlit ads, and branded shopping bags promoting Defiance greeted travelers at the airport. The Marriot Hotel overlooking the convention center was enveloped in a Defiance wrap. A Defiance-branded bus rode along the convention-center boulevard. A block away at the Hard Rock Hotel, a restaurant was transformed into Café Defiance, complete with branded menus, character wallscapes, and gaming stations; this was also the site of a preview panel for press. A partnership with Wired magazine gave Syfy access to top influencers and press at the Wired Café, complete with a Defiance-branded DJ booth. At the TV Guide yacht in the harbor, celebrities lolled against branded pillows while enjoying custom Defiance cocktails and playing the beta version of the game. All that, and a Defiance panel at Comic-Con itself.
You could say that this concentrated effort allowed Defiance to defy the odds of a new brand standing out among the better-known properties. Its presence at the airport alone garnered more than 5 million impressions, with the Marriot building wrap gaining another estimated 3.7 millionl the Wired Café generated a whopping 413 million press impressions. Defiance made EW.com’s list “Comic-Con: TV We Can’t Wait to See,” among other articles and blog posts. And even before the show debuted in April 2013, a number of fan-created sites peppered the Web.