Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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Brilliance in marketing.

Naturally, one of the topics discussed at the SDCC was "how are we going to market and position the Mira Grant books?" Toby is, in some ways, a much easier property to position; she's urban fantasy, straight up, with a noir shaker and a twist of lime. (The lime is cursed, but that's beside the point.) Do I think that Toby is new and different and exciting, and deserves a place on your bookshelf? Of course I do. I'm the author. But the urban fantasy community is huge and healthy enough that it's reasonably non-traumatic to find reviewers and readers, say "look, shiny," and actually get their attention.

The Newsflesh trilogy, on the other hand, is weird distopian zombie horror science fiction. I was describing it to people as "what happens when you cross Transmetropolitan, The West Wing, and The Night of the Living Dead." I consider Feed to be one of the best things I've ever written, but that doesn't mean I think it's the world's easiest thing to market effectively, since "please watch seven seasons of a television drama and the works of George Romero, and read this really cool but pretty long comic book series, and then you'll totally want to read my book" doesn't actually work as a strategy. Although it would be awesome.

So we talked marketing and positioning and various other fun things ending with "ing," and I started looking at the various marketing strategies playing out around the convention with a bit more of a critical eye. It helped that this year's con played host to the single most brilliant piece of unusual marketing I've seen in a long time:

Syfy created the Cafe Diem.

The Cafe Diem is a major location on Eureka, showing up in almost every episode. Syfy took over a local diner, completely rebranding it to match their fictional restaurant. The menus, the logos, the waitstaff, everything was transformed into a little slice of Eureka, the smartest small town on Earth. They had monitors throughout the restaurant showing Syfy bumpers and sizzle reels for the various shows, and it was sheer brilliance in marketing. I probably couldn't tell you any real details of the "big media" booths inside the convention...but I'm going to remember the Cafe Diem for years.

The folks responsible for the promo for 9—the new Tim Burton-produced "stitchpunk" movie—also deserve a round of applause: they had clearly-labeled runners scattered through the convention, handing out con-exclusive cards. If you got all eight of the character cards, you could start looking for The Machine. If you found The Machine, and got his card, you could win a prize. The prize had a time limit, and Jeanne and I didn't much care about it anyway; what we wanted was The Machine's card. We seriously spent hours upon hours searching for The Machine, and when we found him, triumph and victory were ours. This, too, made more of an impression on me than all the bored-looking half-naked women in the world.

Being innovative with promotion is hard, especially at a place like the San Diego Comic-Con, where the signal to noise ration is just insane. Thinking about it is interesting, though, and I have some fun ideas. Sadly, none of them involve taking over a diner.

Tags: book promotion, contemplation, post-con
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