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BizBash: How VidCon Attracts “the Most Media-Savvy Audience in the World”

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The 10th edition of the online video conference targeted Gen Z with colorful, interactive booths and lounges that encouraged creativity.

ANAHEIM, CALIF.—In 2018, VidCon general manager Jim Louderback proclaimed that VidCon attracts “the most media-savvy audience in the world.”

That idea was once again on display at the 10th edition of the convention, its second since being acquired by Viacom. The four-day event, which ran from July 10 to 13 at the Anaheim Convention Center, drew 75,000 fans, video creators, social media influencers, and other industry attendees.

This year, the convention—which was named to BizBash’s list of Southern California’s top 100 events again this year—tested out some formatting changes, most notably with the addition of six-minute case studies, a series of rapid-fire presentations from the likes of Netflix, Microsoft, Chipotle, and Electronic Arts.

The convention also featured the inaugural pet programming zone this year, co-hosted by animal-focused YouTube channel The Dodo. The area offered panels on how to turn your pets into social media stars and featured meet-and-greets with famous animals including Sunglasses Cat, Escobar the Bearded Dragon, and dog and pig duo Pickles and Dill. 

In another shift from previous years, TikTok was arguably the biggest winner of the weekend: The short-form video platform—which has 1.2 billion monthly users and was the third most-installed app worldwide so far this year—had a presence at VidCon for the first time. While popular YouTube creators were given extra security and private transportation after massive crowding in previous years, TikTok stars were still largely accessible to fans, generating the weekend’s biggest buzz.

One place that TikTok stars were not accessible, though, was the platform’s ultra-exclusive—and ultra-buzzy—after-party at Bowlmor Lanes. The guest list was strict: Only creators could enter, meaning fans and marketers were stuck following the festivities from afar. 

One thing stayed the same, though: Brands such as YouTube, Facebook, MTV, Adobe, NBCUniversal, and more asked the Gen Z-focused crowd to embrace their creative sides at colorful, interactive booths, lounges, and activations. Here’s a look inside some of the weekend’s brand highlights.

NBCUniversal

NBCUniversal’s “Share Your Voice” activation, produced by Mirrored Media, encouraged VidCon attendees to discuss all the issues that matter to them, from politics to the influencers they love. Attendees could step into a video booth to record their own segments of Snapchat news show Stay Tuned, where they discussed the causes they’d like to see featured on the news.

NBCUniversal’s “Share Your Voice” activation, produced by Mirrored Media, encouraged VidCon attendees to discuss all the issues that matter to them, from politics to the influencers they love. Attendees could step into a video booth to record their own segments of Snapchat news show Stay Tuned, where they discussed the causes they’d like to see featured on the news. Photo: Mirrored Media

In one area inspired by E! News’ The Rundown, attendees could choose from a menu of phrases—from “Treat Yourself' to “This Is a Case for the FBI”—to have printed on branded T-shirts from a digital printer. They could also help paint a mural by artist Amy Tangerine.

In one area inspired by E! News’ The Rundown, attendees could choose from a menu of phrases—from “Treat Yourself” to “This Is a Case for the FBI”—to have printed on branded T-shirts from a digital printer. They could also help paint a mural by artist Amy Tangerine. Photo: Mirrored Media

In another area inspired by the People’s Choice Awards on E!, attendees could walk down a black carpet and pose for photos and then write in their choices for the awards.

In another area inspired by the People’s Choice Awards on E!, attendees could walk down a black carpet and pose for photos and then write in their choices for the awards. Photo: Mirrored Media

Invisalign

Several brands also activated outside the convention center. Invisalign hosted a 15-foot-tall candy station, which featured 20 candy dispensers in the colors of the Invisalign logo. Each dispenser was custom-engineered by producers Mirrored Media to withstand the weight of the candy and the heat of the sun.

Several brands also activated outside the convention center. Invisalign hosted a 15-foot-tall candy station, which featured 20 candy dispensers in the colors of the Invisalign logo. Each dispenser was custom-engineered by producers Mirrored Media to withstand the weight of the candy and the heat of the sun. Photo: Mirrored Media

Awesomeness TV

Mirrored Media also created two custom photo wall backdrops in the VidCon courtyard, including a custom Awesomeness TV sequin wall.

Mirrored Media also created two custom photo wall backdrops in the VidCon courtyard, including a custom Awesomeness TV sequin wall. Photo: Mirrored Media

Invisalign & Awesomeness TV

The two brands teamed up for a large-scale rainbow slide, produced by Mirrored Media. Guests could race each other on branded slide mats.

The two brands teamed up for a large-scale rainbow slide, produced by Mirrored Media. Guests could race each other on branded slide mats. Photo: Mirrored Media

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Awesomeness x Invisalign Glitter Trampoline

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The Awesomeness x Invisalign Glitter Trampoline was situated just outside the convention center’s main entrance. Sitting adjacent to the Grand Plaza’s fountain, this photo booth invited guests to enter a trampoline enclosure and jump around while thousands of sequins sparkled and danced around them. The action was captured by a custom array of cameras, providing a 180˚ 3D photo animation that guests could instantly share via kiosks at the activation’s exit. Each photo contained a co-branded Awesomeness and Invisalign overlay. From the outside, the trampoline enclosure had no shortage of branding, with custom wrapped stairs and branded exterior walls that raised high above the fountains, prominently visible throughout the Grand Plaza.

About 4,400 unique photos were captured over the four-day activation.

Awesomeness x Invisalign Ferris Wheel & Candy Station

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The focal point of VidCon 2018 was once again the 42 foot Ferris wheel that towered over the Anaheim Convention Center’s Grand Plaza. The wheel, which was co-sponsored by Invisalign, had a mesh wrap that encompassed its entire exterior, along with fully branded gondolas, surrounding barricades, and platform rails. Awesomeness provided a unique custom Snapchat filter that guests were encouraged to use as they snapped their own photos while on the Ferris wheel.

While guests waited in line for the Ferris wheel, they were invited to snack on as much free candy as they wanted, courtesy of the Awesomeness x Invisalign Candy Station. This candy station rose 15 feet high and featured 20 candy dispensers that sat atop a co-branded counter. Each dispenser was custom engineered to withstand the weight of the candy and heat of the sun, as such a feat had never been attempted before. Each one contained a different type of candy in Invisalign branded colors of pink, blue, and green. Guests were able to grab a small cup and enjoy the candy of their choice, which all highlighted the benefits of Invisalign’s “Eat What You Want” messaging that was affixed near the top of the display. Various hard candies, gum balls, and popcorn drew kids and adults alike to the beautiful and unique structure. The dispensers had an outer display tube as well, so no matter how quickly the interior contents were devoured, the aesthetics always remained on-brand and colorful.