Thursday, August 1, 2013

SDCC 2013 - Archie Abroad

US Pop Culture Abroad -
Cesare Asaro, Kirstie Shephard,
Harold Buchholz & Adam B. Finer
I admit that I have not kept up with Archie Comics. I know people that collect & write about Archie with real passion. I was a fan when I was young. I read the books, watched The Archies and the Josie & the Pussycats spin-off on TV. My mom even took me to some obscure skating rink/performance space in Hart, MI to see an afternoon concert of “The Archies” on tour when Sugar Sugar was a big hit. Looking back on it, I can only imagine what kind of tour this must have been, driving by bus from tiny town to tiny town playing fairgrounds, parks and small venues all over the country. Small children screaming at the top of their lungs as soon as the do, do... doo, do, do... of Sugar Sugar started. Those performers must have had nightmares for months afterward. I digress...

I had no idea, but according to the international marketing specialists on this panel, the 1950’s and Archie are the idealized perception of America in a lot of countries.  Kirstie Shepard (Curio & Co.), the moderator, told us that 1950’s America has positive cache around the world, and that their most successful international campaigns reference vintage ads. She said (wild understatement) that there is a big difference between perception and reality.

Other interesting commentary from these panelists, who included Cesare Asaro (Finding Frank & His Friend); Harold Buchholz (Sr VP Archie Comics) & Adam B. Finer (Universal Pictures, NY Film Academy): 
  • Happy Days is very popular in Italy because it reminds people of the liberation after WW2.
  • In some markets, Captain America is called “The First Avenger.”
  • The international market is quickly overtaking the US market.
  • Internationally, people don’t always get the punchline of a joke, but visual humor translates well in most regions.
  • We have so many sequels because companies are buying name recognition. Marketing an unknown property is very expensive.
  • Japan is the first post-apocalyptic country, and is obsessed with Robots! Robots! Robots!
Harold Buchholz (Sr. VP Archie Comics) explained that Archie is absolutely equated with US pop culture. People read Archie to try to figure out what it’s like to go to high school in the US.  Archie is the most popular foreign comic in India. The Best of Archie 1,000 page collection is the #1 best selling juvenile book in Canada. He explained that large compilations like this include stories selected from the entire run of Archie from the 1940's to the present. An Archie social media game is #1 in Nicaragua. This Halloween, they are publishing a book called Afterlife with Archie (trailer) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Archie with zombies).

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