Anime Expo 2010
Marketing Anime Workshop

by Bamboo Dong,

Fans looking to get into brand management had a unique opportunity on Saturday to attend a workshop hosted by Funimation marketing manager Adam Sheehan. Titled, “Shoot the Hostage! - An Adventure in Marketing Anime Workshop,” the interactive panel aimed to show attendees what it was like to be a brand manager by grouping them into teams, and leading them through various marketing scenarios.

Starting with a fictional anime property, Ninja Blood Wars Host Club in Space, groups were given key information, such as the story synopsis, sample sketch art, and a possible release schedule. They were then presented with possible real-life problems that could come up during the production and marketing process, such as disagreements amongst department heads about which demographics to target, and logistical problems with the Japanese licensor.

Interestingly, all of the scenarios that were presented were at one point in time actually experienced at Funimation—and the subsequent “choices” available were also carried out by various brand managers. Not only did it show the breadth of options of how to deal with different problems, but it also gave attendees a chance to see that there weren't really any “wrong” answers.

After each scenario was presented, groups were given five minutes to discuss their plan of attack, and then one representative from each team explained their decision to the room.

Given the sheer number of “how to” creative panels typically available at conventions about drawing manga or writing fan-fic, it was interesting to have a workshop that dealt with working in the production side of the anime industry. Not only did it give fans a chance to see the kind of decisions that brand managers have to deal with, it also gave a glimpse of the types of issues that can arise. Perhaps the only downside is that Mr. Sheehan only served as a mediator, and didn't chime in with his own opinions for each scenario. Although it was good for fans to hear from their peers, his insider industry knowledge could have greatly enriched the workshop.

Fans who are interested in working in the anime industry should definitely try to catch this panel at an upcoming convention. Even if you don't have plans to work in marketing, it's a good opportunity to see what things are like on the marketing side of things.

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