Every year, fan events continue to grow in size and popularity with the MCM series of expos leading the pack in the UK. The potential for brands to reach new audiences in fan communities is huge at these events, evidenced by the massive variety of brands exhibiting from behemoths like Marvel and Nintendo to independent and start-up creators. At the latest expo, we caught up with ReedPop's events director Mary Franklin to find out how the show has grown and the potential the show holds for upcoming brands.
Can you explain who ReedPop are and how you came to acquire MCM Expo?
Mary Franklin: We are the world’s largest pop culture event producer. We have shows in many countries. I work with teams in France, Vienna, China, Korea, Australia, India, Singapore and Indonesia, and then, of course, we have our shows in the United States. We have been admirers of the MCM show for a long time. London and the UK are great places for pop culture and we have been watching these shows and hoping we can get involved with them for quite some time! We are really excited that it finally came about.
How has the show grown over the years?
Franklin: I started coming when I was working at LucasFilm, this is maybe my sixth time here! In that time I’ve definitely seen a big growth in the show. More major brands are here now. Enthusiastic fans were always here, but the presentation from the studios are much bigger now. Seeing Marvel here in a big way, seeing DC here in a big way, seeing the Asia Pop area, it's really growing up with the passions of the fan community.
What brands have you noticed that are on the rise this year in terms of interest?
Franklin: We’ve got a big Marvel activation this year and it's really expanded its presence. They’ve got their own Marvel mini-expo over in the North Hall and that’s obviously a huge brand. As far as brands on the rise, there are just too many to name. The range of brands present is bigger and more diverse than ever and is growing rapidly.
There’s so much potential with this show and we’re very excited to get out more brands and more licenses and see what they are looking for and need
Mary Franklin, ReedPop
How does this convention compare to those in the states such as San Diego?
Franklin: Actually, New York is bigger than San Diego now! When you talk about really big shows, they’re based on population and a number of other factors so there aren’t many big shows like this. In terms of size, this is quite comparable to our shows in Chicago and Seattle in the ‘up and coming’, expanding bracket. There’s so much potential with this show and we’re very excited to get out more brands and more licenses and see what they are looking for and need. We want to brainstorm with them the best ways to connect with this awesome market that we have here for them. So yeah, I think this show has a huge amount of potential.
Why do so many people gravitate towards events such as this?
Franklin: Having been head of events at Lucasfilm and head of fan relations for 14 years before I came to ReedPop, I can talk about this for a long time! First of all, you’ve got the surface- what pulls fans in first is they get to see new things, or old things about their passion, whether that’s shows, characters, storylines, toy collectors, whatever they’re passionate is, they get to come and enjoy that. What really keeps people coming to these shows is the community. They get to be with people like them, they get to see their friends, maybe some of their friends that they only see when they’re at these kinds of events. They feel at home. And if we can create that kind of atmosphere for them then that’s win-win for everybody!
We’re all eager to jump into this. The MCM team is outstanding. They’ve created a great show and we’re eager to work on it with them and grow it. Even though we are an American-based company, the success of a pop-culture show depends on us being experts on the audience where the show is. So all of our UK employees, all of the local people involved in the show are essential to keep it current and vibrant in this market. Its definitely very much a London show, very much a Birmingham show, very much a Manchester show and they’ll resonate with those communities as the shows go on!