Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Great and Secret Mario NY Comic-Con Giveaway

I've gone to the New York Comic-Con on and off for 20 years, and I've never seen it more crowded than this year. The line to get a badge started three blocks away from the entrance. If you did a shot for every Deadpool costume you saw, or every female Captain America, you'd be drunk within half an hour. Nintendo had enough games so you could play all day and not play the same game twice.

I had a bit of a dilemma. To promote the paperback release of Super Mario, Portfolio gave me about 50 copies to give away. (Anyway that's all I could carry in without my arms dying.) Portfolio is owned by Penguin, and Penguin has a booth, so I had a place to hang out while not shopping or being amazed by a Scarlet Witch costume or whatever.

But Penguin is a huge company, with loads of division. And Portfolio, their business division, usually isn't at Comic-Con, because it's just not as natural a fit. So I had all these books, and I didn't have a place to give them away.

So i decided to give them to Mario. And Luigi, and Yoshi and Toad and in one sad instance a Waluigi. I'd grab a dozen books, start wandering the halls until I saw someone wearing Mario gear. One tap on the shoulder later, and I passed on a free book to them.

Went through all 50 books this way. I was worried I'd start tapping the same Mario on the shoulder, but I ran out of stock way before that happened.

There are loads of giveaways at Comic-Con: put a stack of 500 whatevers on a table, and people will grab at them like they were hotcakes. But there's a serious worry that the instinct to grab will be tempered by the realization of, for lack of a better word, "eh." And they'll discard it. I've tossed loads of free comics forced on me because they're just not my thing.

I think I found a way around that giveaway proble. Every single person who got a book was already a Mario fan, and a big enough fan to dress up as him. (Or wear a Mario t-shirt: I wasn't specific.) They're the ideal audience, and I was quite happy to reward their Mario love with a free book.