The recent acquisition of MCM Comic Con by ReedPOP is part of “a long journey”, Lance Fensterman, global head of ReedPOP, told EN. Over the last five years, the US organiser of pop culture events has expanded its portfolio from a handful of shows to 30 events in nine countries, including Australia, China, Indonesia, India, Korea, and Singapore, to name but a few.
The first venture in Europe dates back to 2015, when ReedPOP, Reed France, Reed MIDEM, JTS, and Way To Blue partnered to launch Comic Con Paris, followed by VIEC Vienna Comic Con. The addition of MCM is part of a strategy to increase its presence in Europe by means of leading Comic Con shows in the UK.
The acquisition, Fensterman told EN, was somehow possible thanks to a longstanding friendship with MCM’s co-founder Bryan Cooney. “I’ve known Bryan Cooney for six years or so, and have always admired him and the MCM brand,” he said. “It’s safe to say that this relationship and deal have been developing for that entire time and at least the timing was right for both of us to make it happen. So this has been a long journey.”
How much did ReedPOP invest in the acquisition?
LF: While we don’t share details of transactions like this when investing in a premium brand like MCM, we are prepared to invest accordingly. And for us, the investment does not stop with the transaction; we will be investing in enhancing the brand, the content, and the fan experience all building on the exceptional foundation Bryan and his team have created.
What will be your relationship with Bryan Cooney?
LF: As I mentioned, I’ve known and admired Bryan for many, many years and over those years enjoyed lots of informal advice from him. Going forward he will be a formal advisor to ReedPOP in the UK and the rest of the world.
Will you keep the team in the UK?
LF: We are super excited to have so many experts in UK fandom and geek culture join the ReedPOP ranks, so our plan is to absolutely retain the team and add to it quite significantly. If you’re a geek and reading this, email me!
What do you know about the UK audience?
LF: After travelling the world and building pop culture shows for fandom all over the globe it’s been heartening to learn that the basic DNA of what drives a fan is quite universal, though the actual content that they love is local.
The experience the fans seek and passion that drives them is common and the knowledge of the local scene is unique. This is to say that there is a lot we already know and a lot to learn from the team here in the UK.
Are you planning to make changes to the events in the MCM portfolio?
LF: It’s early days to make those kinds of decisions, but what I do know is that we are absolutely committed to bringing the ‘fan first’ mentality that drives all of our decision within ReedPOP to the UK. Any choices we make going forward will be about creating bigger and better experiences for fans.
ReedPOP, a group within Reed Exhibitions, will have an active role in all MCM events starting in 2018. Fensterman told EN that the company might be up for partnerships going forward. “We are always eager to find likeminded brands, media outlets, companies, websites, etc. to work with and create unique and awesome experiences for our fans!” he said.
The ReedPOP boss knows that the challenge ahead is to understand the local nuances and wants of the fandom in the market. “[That] is exactly why we are fortunate to have such an awesome team already in place to build on,” Fensterman enthused.
Speaking about the long-term plan, Fensterman said it is simply to delight fans in the UK. “Our model is very simple; happy fans mean happy brands which means a bigger, cooler and more awesome show.”