BizBash Event Style Award Winner: Best Virtual Brand Activation
Funimation is a global media company that distributes the best anime to a passionate, worldwide community of fans. For over 25 years, Funimation has been delivering anime to fans, and it is pioneering an omnichannel approach to engaging and entertaining millions where they want it most — streaming, home entertainment, theatrical, e-commerce, merchandising, live events, and more. For anime fans, Funimation delivers a wide variety of fan-favorite shows like Dragon Ball, My Hero Academia, and Attack on Titan. These shows are visually captivating and transport viewers into exciting new worlds. So, when Funimation wanted to engage its fans during a worldwide pandemic, a digital event offered the best way to bring fans together while being miles apart.
Funimation’s fan base engages regularly on digital platforms like Reddit and Twitch, so this group is comfortable with online connection. The challenge, however, was creating an event experience that was fun, authentic, interactive, and above all else — prioritized the user experience. Raising the stakes even higher, anime cons have created an enormous following within this tight-knit community — Funimation knew this virtual version would be compared to those previous, highly successful in-person experiences. So, how could Funimation meet and possibly exceed these expectations in a digital space?
Funimation worked with Freeman to craft its first-ever virtual fan convention, FunimationCon 2020 — a virtual event centered around content, visual art, and community. Freeman built the event platform, managed the technology integrations, and ran the entire event production remotely from the Dallas studio.
The free, two-day event featured concurrent tracks, a wide variety of live and pre-recorded sessions with speakers and voice actors, virtual concerts, an interactive swag quest, official merchandise sales, and even a virtual cosplay forum.
From the moment fans registered for the event, they were met with vivid on-screen visuals, and the entire virtual event platform was designed to feel like an anime lover’s dream. The site also featured chat functionality on all session pages, so attendees could weigh in on content in real time and interact as a group from around the world. On top of eye-catching designs, easy-to-navigate pages, and interactive sessions, Funimation featured energetic hosts to keep attendees amped up throughout the experience.
In addition to engaged attendees, Funimation focused on engaging its partners as well. To drive revenue and highlight key players in the anime community, FunimationCon featured a virtual exhibitor section, as well as sponsored ads throughout the platform. In addition to an exhibitor area, the team created a program called Swag Quest, driving curious fans to stay engaged and visit partners for event-exclusive items and offers. This decision gave partners like Sony, GameStop, and PlayStation high visibility with target audiences. DoorDash, another exhibitor, took advantage of the opportunity, knowing its app for food delivery would be of high interest for attendees.
Anime enthusiasts came with high hopes and left with full hearts. The event was wildly successful — it ended up exceeding Funimation’s goals, and received rave reviews on social media from attendees and speakers alike. Some key wins include:
FunimationCon 2020 proved that community is the driving force for virtual events. The thoughtfully designed experience brought together the attendees’ wants and the brand’s needs, and delivered a memorable experience for fans all around the world — right when they needed it most.