Savvy veterans of the convention circuit know that a quality giveaway can make or break your booth’s success. Tradeshow giveaway staples like pens, stress balls, and coffee mugs certainly serve a purpose, however, you can garner serious attention by thinking creatively and taking your giveaway game up a notch.

For inspiration on giveaway creativity, look no further than Comic-Con. The first Comic-Con was a comic book convention in San Diego in 1970. Today, there are Comic-Cons in cities around the world and the vendors cater to fans of books, movies and television shows in addition to comic books.

Every year, Comic-Con vendors face stiff competition for the attention and favor of fans. Success at Comic-Con can translate into early buzz – and future success – for a new movie or television show. Like many conventions, giveaways are part of Comic-Con’s fabric. The vendors with the most popular giveaways often see the highest traffic and, subsequently the most online buzz after the convention ends.

I’ve reviewed some of the more popular giveaways from recent Comic-Cons and made a list of the five best. The next time you’re considering a box of pens or paperweights for your tradeshow giveaway, look to these promotional giveaways for creative inspiration.

1) Activision’s The Walking Dead “Necklace of Ears”

For those uninitiated with The Walking Dead, this giveaway may be as gross as it sounds. However, fans of the zombie-apocalypse show love it. One of the show’s most popular characters is Daryl, a bow-and-arrow wielding good guy who kills zombies and wears their ears on a necklace as a trophy. Game maker Activision gave away replica necklaces at San Diego’s 2012 Comic-Con to the first 100 people who pre-ordered their new Walking Dead video game. Custom promotional products such as this can easily be created if ordered far enough in advance.

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2) A&E’s Bates Motel Bars of Soap

For horror fans, a bar of soap labeled “Bates Motel” brings back memories of one of the scariest scenes in movie history. A&E promoted their new Psycho-themed television series at the San Diego 2012 Comic-Con with these inexpensive yet creative promotional giveaways.

 Bates motel soap

3) Warner Brothers’ Bags-with-Capes

The swag bag is one of the most common and effective giveaways. What better way to promote your product than to provide the bag that will carry all other giveaways? Warner Brothers traditionally provides bags at Comic-Con, but in 2013 they took the bags to another level. They appealed to the super-hero set by providing bags that could be transformed into backpacks adorned with removable capes.

  warner brothers bags with cape

4) HarperCollins Books’ Spin-And-Win

Giving away free products is always a popular way to get attention. However, you can keep guests at the booth longer if you make the giveaway fun. That’s exactly what book publisher HarperCollins did at New York City’s 2013 Comic-Con. They let guests spin a giant wheel for a free copy of their most popular titles. Prize wheels such as this are readily available and can be customized with prizes to fit your promotion.

  spin and win

5) Disney Publishing’s Buttons

Disney obviously has a very recognizable brand that is beloved by fans around the world. What makes this giveaway unique is how the company tied in their brand with the theme of the convention. Mickey looks a bit like a superhero with his fluttering cape against the backdrop of a city skyline. These buttons were reportedly gone in less than five minutes.

  disney buttons

You don’t need to sell superheroes, cartoon characters, and horror movies to have creative promotional giveaways. Sometimes just thinking outside the box about what the convention’s guests would like to receive can give you a fresh perspective. Think like a Comic-Con vendor and you’ll have guests lined up at your booth at the next convention or tradeshow!

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