Sunday, January 17, 2010

100th Post: Know Your Audience

I've been thinking for a while what my 100th post should be about since I would like to put something in before I go to my next con (Tokyo International Anime Fair? London MCM Expo?)...but I guess the current issues surrounding Anime Expo, which was my first con in 2008, would be good material...(okay this would be my 101st post because there was a Clonnad post I deleted when I found out it was a little too adult for this blog...)

But back to the theme of the current post...As an outsider who's only observed from the sidelines (conversations with friends, discussion boards, etc...) about the Anime Expo/SPJA drama regarding mass resignations (or terminations depending on your source) and the like, I can only guess as to what the real problem is. However, it seems to me that a lack of direction and inability to commit to that direction could be a problem (I remember around this time last year AX was looking for an assistant division manager for programming...I was surprised I was even given an interview when I applied, and I think I recall asking the interviewers if it was cutting it close to hire someone so close to the event...) . It may be hard to have a direction or vision if you are not sure who your audience is (heck, since I don't get a lot of comments on my blog, I'm still trying to figure out who my audience is...though it is interesting that I get visitors from eastern Europe.)

After several anime/cosplay/fan events in the past year, I learn that each event appears (emphasis on "appears" as opposed to "is geared to" as I don't know what the vision of the event organizers were) to cater to a different audience. For example, Disney's first D23 Expo last year seems to appeal to the Disney fan who wants to learn about exciting new projects (I really, really liked the stuff planned for Hong Kong Disneyland's expansion) and see some Disney history (like Michael Jackson's costume from Captain EO). The SoCal Cosplay Gathering seemed to appeal to the cosplayers who want something a little different from cons (and a free lunch, unless you paid for parking). Pacific Media Expo seems to appeal to those interested in other elements of pan-Asian entertainment (a lot of gothic and lolita at this past Expo). It seems to me that Anime Expo should be a lot more than just a fan convention, but not necessarily the media giant the Comic-Con is (at least not now).

But anyway, ever since my upper level writing course in college, the lesson of knowing your audience has been an idea that I try to apply to everything I do. So I was wondering if the concept of knowing your audience can be applied to conventions. After remembering a text I got from a friend attending last year's San Diego Comic-Con about how she saw people holding signs saying "Twilight Ruined Comic-Con", I was curious if anyone had a serious discussion about Comic-Con about its audience. I found a series of articles just about that...

http://www.kpbs.org/news/2009/aug/03/what-can-arts-community-learn-comic-con/


I won't bother summarizing the articles because each reader will take something different away from reading it, but what I got from it as that it will take years to grow an event, and it is especially when the number of credible reporters and critics is dwindling and being overtaken by anyone with a blog/discussion board account and an opinion but no real background in the material they are talking about. Another lesson I learned from following the AX/SPJA drama and reading the above article is that if you know your audience is growing, it is also changing. Therefore, you need to adapt in order to survive. Sure, any changes to your event/activity may turn-off some of your most loyal fans (I remember the firestorm of protests that erupted when they announced the addition of Jack Sparrow to the ride, or the closing of Adventurers Club at Walt Disney World...I still couldn't believe they offered a drink as strong as the Kungaloosh. Remember I was a Disney geek long before I was an otaku), but you will also end up gaining some new fans who can bring new insight as to how to survive in this new digitally-connected world where information can travel quickly.

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