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Brands Pair up with Hollywood to Court Comic-Con Crowd

Sponsored event spaces give marketers way to target tech-savvy early adopters and provide escape from crowded convention center

With interest in Comic-Con growing each year, consumer brands have literally paired up with Hollywood to court the same audience making the trip to San Diego each year.

Best Buy and Qualcomm will host the Power-Up! Cafe with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment from the Hard Rock Hotel’s 207 Lounge, directly across from the San Diego Convention Center all day from July 18-20.

The event space, meant to serve as a respite away from the crowded show floor and presentation rooms at the convention center, will offer up food and beverages with a side of promotional messaging.

Best Buy will hype its streaming video service CinemaNow, while Qualcomm will have a slew of electronic devices — including smartphones, tablets and smart TVs — that feature its Snapdragon processor, designed to pack faster web browsing, applications, GPS, high-end HD graphics and audio, 3D video, dual cameras, and touchscreen capabilities into mobile devices.

Qualcomm has been eager to promote Snapdragon given that it aims to make the type of chip that serves as the heart of most mobile devices a key consideration for consumers when buying new hardware. Around 70% of consumers in the U.S. do product research on the web before buying a smartphone, for example, and Qualcomm hopes to raise its profile with those purchasers. Events like Comic-Con enable it to target a demo that’s known to be an early adopter — tech-savvy individuals who are often first to buy a new electronics device.

Naturally, Fox will also promote its upcoming film and TV releases on disc, and Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and Digital HD technology as the future of homevideo.

“The cafe gives journalists, bloggers and guests a digital entertainment jolt,” said Mary Daily, president and chief marketing officer of worldwide marketing, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “We are incorporating the latest technology found in connected households with the best in Blu-ray and Digital HD.”

With 130,000 attendees buying tickets to the sold-out event, Comic-Con has long served as a key summer platform through which companies can promote movies, TV shows, video games, comic books and toys — mostly through positive word-of-mouth. And brands also hope for a similar kind of buzz to help boost the appeal of their products, as well.

At Comic-Con, that often means starting with the media and bloggers first, given that there are 3,500 registered journalists at the convention during the week.

“At Best Buy, we’re committed to supporting customers for the life of their products, so of course we’d be at Comic-Con providing tech support to covering media who want to step away from the controlled chaos of the event, file their stories or enjoy a coffee at the Power-Up! Cafe,” says Jon Sandler, a Best Buy spokesman.

But with Best Buy in the midst of a corporate redesign to get more customers into its stores, Best Buy is also hoping to use Comic-Con as a way to get the word out about its new look. Company recently announced min-stores for Samsung products inside its stores the way it has designated areas for Apple products.

“Best Buy is committed to being the destination for our customer’s entertainment needs by carrying all of the latest music, movies and games,” Sandler said. “At Comic-Con, we’re showcasing the connectivity and flexibility that CinemaNow offers, allowing people to take the entertainment they love with them on-the-go, in-line, or wear it in their cape and cowl.”

The Power Up! Cafe won’t be the only escape for media and talent during Comic-Con.

Wired magazine is once again hosting its popular Wired Cafe on the terrace of the Omni Hotel, also across from the convention center, that’s proved a big draw for media and talent attending Comic-Con. Previous years have featured the cast of HBO’s “True Blood,” MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” the CW’s “The Vampire Diaries,” BBC America’s “Doctor Who” and the “Twilight” movies.

This year’s space will feature free Wi-Fi and charging stations from Seidio, an HBO “Game of Thrones”-themed bar, a custom built Viking-inspired ship with hair braiding, tattoos and a photobooth on board from the History Channel, Cubify’s 3D printing technology, a HitCents gaming station featuring ‘Draw a Stickman’ and ‘Harlem Shake,’ superhero caricatures by AVI-SLP, and a gadget lab offering custom laser-engraving from Epilog Laser, and new offerings from Kia, Olloclip and Nokia.

WIRED Cafe at Comic Con Recap from Jessica Sander on Vimeo.

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