This is the first article by guest writer Aileen Cacayorin:
Stuff We All Get. San Diego Comic Con is known just as much for its plethora of giveaway’s as it is for being the mecca of all things pop culture. There’s a reason all attendees of the Con get a “swag bag”, and yes, the ridiculously large size of the bag is completely necessary. Even if you’re not a fan of comics or don’t enjoy going to panels, you can make your money’s worth just by spending the entire event collecting “swag”. You’ll see a lot of cool giveaways and wonder how to get them. Sometimes it’s directly from the exhibitors or their employees, but the majority of the time, it’s from a brand ambassador, and that’s where I come in.
(I can literally fit inside one of this year’s swag bags.)
What’s a brand ambassador? Simply put, we help spread brand awareness, and our actual tasks vary depending on the event and brand. At Comic Con, you probably recognize us as the people you’re trying to “sweet talk” into giving you some free stuff. This year, I was one of them.
I can’t talk about the specific exhibit I was staffing, but you probably went to it. Comic Con is one of the biggest and funnest events you can work as a brand ambassador, but it’s also one of the most stressful. We’re not attendees, we’re there to work and most of us don’t get the fun of attending panels, exploring the exhibit floor for hours, or trolling for swag. We spend most of the day on our feet (and for some, outside underneath the sun, I’ve got the sunburns to prove it) and we deal with crowds of people harassing us for free stuff.
Believe it or not, our job isn’t to just hand out freebies. Yes, part of the job entails giving you promotional items, but overall, our job is to represent the brand and spread awareness positively and professionally. The things we’re handing out are part of a much larger promotional campaign designed to increase brand knowledge, which is why so many items are given away conditionally. Trust me, we want to give you free stuff, but we also have to do our job.
On that note, here’s a round up of some of this year’s SDCC swag:
Most In-Demand Swag: Pan Am Bags
As part of the promotion for ABC’s new fall show, Pan Am, Con attendees could board Pan Am “flight” at the ABC booth, watch a preview of the show, and receive one of the highly sought after trademark Pan Am bags. These bags varied in style from simple messenger bags, to slightly nicer and sportier messenger bags, and even the classic leather weekend bag. Each one had the famed Pan Am logo, making them the hottest swag items at the convention. Tickets for these flights would be gone pretty much as soon as the exhibit floor opened. The only other way to get one was to be at the right place, right time outside the convention and those went fast.
Yea, I wanted one too.
Rarest Swag: The Flaming C shirts and Oven Mitt
One of the main attractions outside of the convention center itself was Team Coco’s The Flaming C art exhibit. Flaming C T-shirts, oven mitts, and capes were given to everyone who went, but they must have run out quickly because I hardly saw any during the Con.
This is a sweet shirt, why didn’t I see more around?
I Need to Start Working Out Swag: Jon Favreau and the Golden Bricks
I went through 6 of these and still didn’t win tickets!!
To win tickets to the world premier of Cowboys and Aliens, you had to follow @CowboysandAliens on Twitter or sign up for text updates. Throughout the day, the Cowboys and Aliens team would be handing out Golden Bricks at random locations around San Diego. Notifications would read something like:
“Another Gold Rush! Head to Fourth and J now for the chance to get a gold brick and win tix to the Cowboys and Aliens Premiere!”
Whenever there was an update, you literally had to be there within 5 minutes if you wanted a brick, and that usually involved a lot of running. Not every brick had a winning ticket, but the bricks contained some sweet consolation swag in the form of exclusive Comic Con Cowboys and Aliens shirts, or a blaster. If you didn’t win, hopefully the freebies were worth the asthma inducing sprint.
I sprinted 8 blocks to get this?! WORTH IT.
Smart Phone Swag: South Park T-shirts
For South Park fans, the Comedy Central South Park Interactive Park was a must see, even though it was outside the Comic Con venue itself. If you had a smart phone and were willing to wait in line for 15-30 mins (pretty easy compared to Hall H, I’m looking at you, Twilight fans), then getting an awesome South Park shirt was pretty easy. All you had to do was use your FourSquare app to check into the Interactive Park, show them your check in badge, and you got yourself a free shirt.
However, if you didn’t have a smart phone, you were sh$t out of luck.
Easiest Swag: Real Steel/Shark Week swag bags
These were pretty much just being handed out. All you had to do was stop by Petco Park or the Real Steel truck on Island and first to get one. Also, if you busted a sweet dance move for the DJ outside the Real Steel truck, you got one of these:
Let’s hope the movie is good.
Most Useful Swag: Psych/IGN Sunglasses
Psych sunglasses were being handed out pretty generously, but to get IGN sunglasses you had to play a game of corn hole with the IGN station emcee. If you aren’t good at the game, you probably had to be a good sport about it, as the emcee would call you out on your level of suck. Whether the sunglasses were worth it depends on how easily embarrassed you are. However, these sunglasses came in handy if you were waiting outside for Hall H all day.
Second Location Swag: Nintendo Pokedex 3D shirt
Nintendo had it’s own booth at the Con of course, but if you wanted some gear you had to go to it’s gaming lounge, located next door at the Marriott. If you had time to kill, it was worth the trip as the lounge featured over 80 gaming stations where you could preview a bunch of 3DS and Wii games, including the new Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword!!!
Best Panel Swag: Game of Thrones
The Game of Thrones panel was one of the hardest panels to get into. Those who waited for hours outside Ballroom 20 to get in were rewarded very well, not just with a great panel, but with some pretty awesome gear. I didn’t get to go but apparently after the panel, you could go to the fulfillment room (they seriously need to rethink that name, if you know what I mean) and get a Game of Thrones bag, complete with T-shirt, book, and mouse pad.
Worst Panel Swag: The Cleveland Show
This doesn’t mean the panel itself was bad. It was actually kind of fun and we got to preview The Cleveland Show’s upcoming Christmas special: Die Semi-Hard. However, if you went to the fulfillment room you probably left pretty . . .err . .. unfulfilled. All you got was a tiny Cleveland Show pin, which is kind of a tease considering right next to that giveaway were some pretty sweet Avengers shirts for anyone that went to the Marvel panels.
Overall Best Swag: Marvel
In my opinion, this goes to Marvel, not just for quality but for variety as well. Every day the Marvel booth (designed to be a replica of the SHIELD headquarters!!) had something different to offer. There were exclusive posters, comics, Captain America iTouch and iPhone 4 cases, passes to an early screening of Captain America, and of course those highly sought after and extremely cool Avengers T-shirts. Giveaway hour at the Marvel booth was always chaos and there would literally be mob of people desperate to get an Avengers shirt or whatever else was being handed out. During the last giveaway hour on Sunday, it was actually complete mayhem as the best was saved for last. Among the drool worthy items given out were limited edition figurines, signed movie poster boards, Captain America shields, and no less than three Marvel themed guitars signed by Stan Lee, Chris Evans, and Joe Quesada!
If you want more of Aileen’s generally awesome work follow her on Twitter @A1L33N