Campaign Trail: The best — and geekiest — marketing plays from New York Comic-Con
A Fandom Food Truck caters to busy attendees' hunger pangs, while Campbell's Soup installs a Star Wars-inspired 'canstallation' and PepsiCo promotes Xbox through AR.
Campaign Trail is our look at some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world.
Marketing Dive's editors, some of whom clearly wish they could be at New York Comic-Con, review the strategies brands like Campbell's Soup, Fandom.com and PepsiCo's Mountain Dew and Doritos brands are employing to engage with attendees.
Fandom.com fills up Comic-Con with funky food inspired by 'Rick and Morty,' 'Stranger Things' and more
The rundown: Attending a massive convention like New York Comic-Con can be exhausting — and we should know given that we just spent a week at the ad industry's equivalent with Advertising Week. That's why Fandom.com, an online fan community and information hub for all things geeky, partnered with local caterers Scoozi Events to deploy a Fandom Food Truck serving pop culture-themed confections and other treats to satiate visitors' appeitites, as showcased in Food & Wine.
The truck, located by Comic-Con's Hall 3E, at Booth 274, designed its menu around beloved TV shows and movies, with items such as a Pickle Rick Soda inspired by "Rick and Morty"; Upside Down Waffles that nod to the dark alternate dimension from Netflix's "Stranger Things" and the Porg in a Blanket, which wraps a cute space critter from the upcoming "Star Wars" film in finger food style. All of the offerings are vegetarian.
The results: The Marketing Dive team is (unfortunately) not at New York Comic-Con, so readers will have to head over to the Jacob K. Javits Center for the flavor verdict on these funky, sample-sized bites. As for the marketing strategy, Fandom and its parent platform Wikia are tapping into the popularity of specialized food trucks — a tactic leveraged by a number of brands this year including dating app Bumble — and also adding an air of exclusivity as the menu items will only be available at the event. Early responses on social media seem positive:
In terms of the properties chosen as inspiration, it looks like a home run as well. As Ad Age noted in a recent write-up, "Rick and Morty" currently dominates the attentions of the key 18 to 34 demo. Its third season finale, which aired Sunday, beat out the competition and attracted 1.52 million members of that age group, so there's strong reason to believe that the trippy sci-fi series will have a presence on the convention floor.
"Rick and Morty" previously appeared in Campaign Trail in a different food play, where McDonald's gave out limited amounts of an old promotional item, Szechuan dipping sauce, that's coveted by the anti-hero scientist Rick Sanchez. Netflix's "Stranger Things," another ubiquitous pop culture phenomenon, has also become a cherished media property for marketers looking to connect with young consumers, and Converse earlier this year brought on star Millie Bobbie Brown for a GIF-centric social media campaign.
— Peter Adams
Campbell's Soup revives Star Wars tie-up in bet on power of nostalgia
The rundown: Comic-Con attendees can also interact with Stars Wars characters made entirely out of new, limited-edition Campbell's Soup cans that feature metalized paper labels depicting some of the key players in the upcoming "The Last Jedi." Behind the out-of-home "canstallation" — which is displayed on a truck parked at 10th Ave. at 37th St. through Oct. 7 — is a screen playing the trailer for the new film, per a news release. The cans of soup, developed in collaboration with Disney and Lucasfilm, have die-cut Star Wars pasta shapes inside and are available in grocery stores.
Campbell's Soup will also release a new commercial to support the cans as part of its "Made for Real, Real Life," campaign.
The results: Campbell's is hoping that the power of the "Force" can inspire Star Wars fans young and old to buy its Healthy Kid soup line at a time when the organic soup category is growing while the brand's own sales have dropped by 4%. Interest in Star Wars is still high, so the effort could do well enough, if consumers are willing to overlook the fact that the franchise and the marketing tie-up are both starting to show their age.
Just like Disney isn't afraid to rehash old storylines to introduce the Star Wars saga to a new generation, Campbell’s Soup is hitting replay on several strategies for its third go-around with Star Wars-licensed soup cans and a return engagement for the Comic-Con installation. The brand also previously released a Star Wars-themed commercial in 2015 that received some buzz for its portrayal of two dads feeding their son while reenacting the well-known "I am your father" line from the "Empire Strikes Back."
The effort boosts its potential by tapping into key trends this year like nostalgia as well as Instagram-worthy limited-edition packaging and out-of-home marketing.
Mountain Dew and Doritos shoot for Pokémon Go's AR success
The rundown: As if those at Comic-Con this weekend aren't lucky enough just to be there, now they can pre-register for a shot at winning the much-buzzed-about Xbox One X console. The normally $500 gaming system will be gifted to the winner of The Drop Zone, a series of location-based augmented reality events put on by Mountain Dew and Doritos — two essential foods in any gamer's diet. It's still not entirely clear how the events will pan out, but it appears to be a technology-enhanced "capture the flag" tournament that pins people in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago against each other on the weekend of Nov. 10.
According to the PepsiCo brands, "deploying offensive and defensive power-ups, players will be tasked with finding, claiming and keeping control of a virtual console within the app."
The Drop Zone event builds on the brands' "Every 60 Seconds" effort. Consumers can collect codes on special Mountain Dew and Doritos packaging and bank points to win an Xbox One X ahead of the console's Nov. 6 launch, when they can redeem the points in auctions that close — you guessed it — every 60 seconds.
The results: Opening registering for the event at Comic-Con makes a lot of sense, as attendees likely comprise a key target audience for the promotion, namely dedicated gamers. If the AR game concept is a hit, then the brands could see world of mouth at Comic-Con help drive registrations.
The Dew and Doritos push is the latest marketing ploy to enlist a smartphone-based game. The two brands might be big in the snacking world, but it appears that now they're taking aim at gamers who are familiar with their products and likely have the console's release date already penciled into their calendars. The Drop Zone sounds very similar to Pokémon Go, which saw wild success in summer 2016, and incorporated an AR mobile game that connected gamers in real life. The key difference here is that there are prizes.