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Syfy raises profile at Comic-Con

Cable channel re-syncs with fans

It’s easy to get lost in the crowd at Comic-Con when studios, networks, videogame companies, toymakers and, yes, even comicbook publishers are all vying for attention.

But Syfy stuck closely to its new tagline, “Imagine Greater,” when it trekked to San Diego.

To make its rebranding campaign stand out among the thousands of fanboys and girls at the Con, the channel transformed the Hard Rock Hotel’s Maryjane’s Coffee Shop into Cafe Diem, a regular setpiece seen on “Eureka.”

“If you walk the floor (of the convention), you feel sensory overload,” says Blake Callaway, VP of brand marketing for Syfy. “Last year, we asked ourselves, ‘How we do we make things bigger, greater, different?’

“It’s the first time we were (at the Con) with our new brand. We wanted to make sure fans knew we didn’t abandon the genre and still deliver shows they love.”

The resulting purple-hewed makeover involved SyFy-branded signage, imagery from its shows plastering walls, rebranded seating, floormats, even a new menu with offerings named after characters or actors on SyFy series — like the Cylon Caesar Salad or Lou Diamond Flapjacks.

Concept proved so convincing that fans asked whether there were such eateries in other cities.

For years, the old Sci-Fi Channel had a pricey booth on the convention’s show floor. “But you’re always confined to your square footage of space,” Callaway says.

The Hard Rock offered a prime location on a corner across from the convention center, with thousands of Con attendees walking past the venue on their way into the city’s Gaslamp Quarter.

And while the show floor closed at 6 p.m., the Hard Rock stayed open until 3 a.m. each night, guaranteeing Syfy even more exposure.

Financial details of the takeover weren’t disclosed, but the Hard Rock did see restaurant sales triple during the week of the Con vs. a year earlier.

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