Each and every year, a new set of changes, concerns, celebrations and expectations surround Comic-Con International in San Diego – the biggest pop culture event of its kind in all of North America. And every year, CBR News brings you not just the news from the show but the news about the show from Comic-Con Director of Marketing and Public Relations David Glanzer.
This morning, with the majority of the con having already flown by, we spoke with Glanzer in the wake of an unfortunate alleged attack in the convention's Hall H yesterday and dug a little into how the show has been going outside that particularly shocking piece of news including his thoughts on this year's security, the need for more Comic-Con-related advertising across San Diego, the current state of the organization's impending choice of its post-2011 host city and a view on how Sunday will round out this year's show.
Check back with CBR later in the week for another in depth roundup on the con with Glanzer.
CBR News: David, until the incident in Hall H happened Saturday I was planning on talking with you first on how smoothly everyone was saying the show had been going...
David Glanzer: [Laughter]
But there was positive chatter on the difference in security this year – easier lines at the panels and less head butting between security and attendees. Is there anything you've done different this year from previous Comic-Cons on that front?
Actually, there really is something different and that is we implemented a new security protocol. In the past, I think we had one security company, and now we have basically a consulting firm that specializes in working with a multitude of companies, and we think that's really increased communication, and we don't really talk much about security, but from our personal dealings, things have gone well.
As far as the tone of the show and how it's left its mark this year, there's been a lot of advertising both at the convention and in the city – most notably several building-sized ads for movies, video games and such, but also with viral marketing ads being placed on the mirrors of hotels near the convention center. Is any of this coordinated through the Comic-Con organization, or do you guys see a lot of what's being thrown up as you're setting up the convention center?
It's really a combination. Not all the stuff that happens around the city is coordinated through us. Some of it is, and the ones that are, we end up getting – it's not really a percentage but a small sponsorship fee for it. And I have to tell you, one of the things we stressed a few years ago was that you might see more advertising at Comic-Con to help defray the costs we have. It's costs about twice as much to operate the show in 2009 than it did in 2004, but our income for the last three years has effectively been flat because we've had to cap attendance. And we can't let any more exhibitors on the floor, so one of the things we're looking at is these sponsorship opportunities. I hope fans will bear with us on that, but it's a way to increase revenue without having to increase prices.
Things get bigger and bigger. Do you ever get the sense that there are things that have grown in with the show that are out of your control?
I think we'd like to have a say in some of this stuff, but that isn't always possible. Or if it's possible, it's not always offered. And so that's another issue as well. I think we're looking to make a decision about our future in the next few years, and this may be a factor of it as well. That is, can we increase revenue by doing these sponsorship opportunities? Will the venues that offer these sponsorships be willing to work with us? There's any number of things that we can do. I tell you right now that I think most of the hotels are working with us.
With the possibility of the show moving out of San Diego, there have been a number of organizations and businesses doing everything they can to put a best foot forward and keep the show where it is. Has community support this year made any impact on how the show is run?
I think some of the hotels certainly are, and we're very grateful for that. And to be honest with you, we've really kind of taken a break from all the reviews for the week, and once the dust settles, we'll drive right back into it. But it's still really up in the air. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. I think this is the most difficult decision we've ever had to make, to be honest with you – or one of them – and I really don't know which way it's going to fall.
Has the city of San Diego been out to the show in any significant way, or has mayor been out to the show this year?
My understanding is that the mayor has not stopped by, but I think the people from the mayor's office may have stopped by.
It's been a big show as always, with so much going on. Has there been, from across the board, anything that jumps out to you saying, "This is why we do this show"?
Well I have to tell you, I was in Halls A, B and C and was with a buddy of mine who sells comics, and he was doing really well. The woman next to him had a small table – she was from Florida, and she was doing really well. And there were a lot of people there. I was talking to my friend who has bins of comics, and I said, "You do such a great job of marketing yourself" – he puts signs in his car and gets on Craigslist – and I said "One of these days, you should do a panel on how to market your booth." The guy who was going through his bins turned around and said, "I'd go to that." I asked if he had a booth, and he said, "I do, but here I am looking for comics, but I'd like to know how to do that myself." To me, that's really a cool thing because A) people are still selling comics and there's still moms and pops on the floor, but B) they're looking for help in how to best promote themselves. We used to have an expo years ago, and I don't know if we have resources now to do it again, but I hope people start to utilize them, whether it's promoting themselves at the con or just their own store. I think more comic shops, the bigger the profile – the better that is for the industry.
Is there anything specific on your mind to get accomplished as we go into the last day of the show?
So far it seems good. I hope people come out and have a good time. I know the people I spoke with have all had a really good time. I've seen a lot of smiling children. Tomorrow is kids day, but I've seen a huge amount of kids on the floor already, and that makes me happy because it means there's new comic fans coming in.