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Zap! Pow! Comic Con smashes footfall figures

Original cast from the epic Star Wars films were blown away by the success of Port Solent’s sci-fi fantasy extravaganza Comic Con.

Port Solent is a destination marina close to Portsmouth, containing 17 bars, restaurants and a selection of boutique shops. Carswell Gould's challenge was to raise the profile of the venue, in particular for the local population, increase visitor numbers and help people rediscover what makes it such a special place to visit and spend time in.

We worked with the management team at Port Solent to devise an annual marketing strategy that had three marquee events at its core. Comic Con was the first of these, designed to bring in a targeted audience and add something new and totally different to the local area. 

To help make the event a success, we brought on board the super events specialists Nerdageddon Events to work with us and Port Solent in terms of organising the day and liaising with all the colourful characters that were needed to make the day a success. To promote the event we planned and executed a totally integrated marketing and PR campaign. Comic Con smashed all of our expectations and delivered footfall figures of over 21,000 on the day. The event saw Michael Henbury and Pam Rose - who played an Ewok and alien Leesub Sirln respectively - meet ecstatic fans who experienced worlds and galaxies from their favourite movies, television shows and comic books. Families were transported to the mean streets of Gotham City where they admired a selection of Batmobiles, including the Batman Steamer from Podpad Studios. Props from the Harry Potter films and 80s classics Gremlins and ET were on hand, as well as Stormtroopers from Star Wars to keep everyone in check.

Comic Con was also awash with costumed superheroes including Iron Man, Batman, Deadpool, Captain America, Captain Jack Sparrow, the Ghostbusters and Harley Quinn - who all posed for photos with fans.

We used a multichannel approach to raise awareness of the event, utilising PR, social media and radio advertising alongside the geo-targeted mobile advertising and billboard campaigns that we had already set running to raise overall awareness of Port Solent. 

To drum up even more publicity, we sent account exec Luke out to hand-deliver media invitations (dressed as Mr Incredible, of course) to print and broadcast press. In addition, we posted updates to social media and arranged for additional activity from the local commercial radio station, Sam FM.

The Comic Con campaign was hugely successful and the visitor numbers far exceeded our client’s expectations. 

The occasion was a roaring success and set a record attendance for a single day at Port Solent - something which did not surprise the actors. Michael Henbury, who is also renowned for being Britain’s smallest man at 2ft 11in, said: 

“The event was superbly laid on. I was absolutely staggered by the volume of people - it was incredible.” 

Speaking of her enjoyment at Comic Con, Pam Rose, who made appearances in Batman and Superman, as well as in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, said:

“I was in the original Stars Wars and was glad to come along to promote the area and support Port Solent. It’s been a great success and everybody had fun taking pictures with the characters.

“What a fantastic day - and with such a fantastic view, outside overlooking the marina. Mums and dads have been encouraging their kids to become fans. Everyone had a great time.”

Lisa Fowler, event manager at Port Solent, said:

“Comic Con was a huge success and a truly out of this world experience with visitors transported to their favourite sci-fi movie, television show or comic book.

“We were thrilled with the turnout which set a new record for a single day at Port Solent and showed the enthusiasm everyone had for Comic Con. It was great to see so many people in costume as well as have the chance to meet actors from the original Star Wars films.”

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