(Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 19--SALT LAKE CITY -- An Ogden native, Bryan Brandenburg, is behind much of the success of what many are calling Utah's most popular event ever, Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience, which continues Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
Brandenburg, 55, is Salt Lake Comic Con vice president of marketing and one of two partners who brought the event to Utah.
Last fall's first Comic Con broke two records. The attraction was the largest convention of its type ever in North American history, The event also was the largest convention in the state of Utah, Brandenburg said. Utah's outdoor retailers convention previously had brought 27,000 guests. Comic Con drew 72,000.
The decision to produce two events in 2014 was based on overwhelming fan response to the sold out September 2013 inaugural event.
Six months later, this weekend's event is expected to break those records, bringing in more than 100,000 people.
Based on Thurday's record crowd, Brandenburg said he is confident the event will reach that benchmark. "We had more people at Thursday's event than we did last year on a Saturday," he said.
Last year's success was noticed in the business community and landed the event recognition in Forbes Magazine.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also recognized the success by appearing at a press conference Thursday and naming the day as Comic Con Super Hero Day.
A press conference highlight was Herbert being drawn as Superman.
A Weber State University alumnus, Brandenburg said he learned many of the skills he needed to know how to successfully market the event while studying math and physics at WSU.
"I think I'm a good problem solver," he said, noting that he uses what he knows about consumers to successfully market Comic Con.
Also a Ben Lomond High graduate, he said he uses a strategy of picturing the solar system for his decisions.
"In the solar system, you have celestial objects in motion," he said. "You know where they are and you can predict where they will be."
He said if he knows how to measure where things are today, he knows where things will be in the future.
Brandenburg's strategy for success has been to involve fans early on in the process using social media and to listen to what they want so he can provide those attractions for them.
"You have two ears and one mouth, you should use them in that proportion," he said.
He said listening and providing is how the Comic Con Facebook page has become the most successful of any other in Utah. Those who visit the site have a chance at winning prizes, including $60 tickets into the event, with comments to any post.
"We can reach up to 350,000 people with every post," he said.
And he pointed to a unique situation where the fans have become part of the production.
"They are not only satisfied for themselves but to the extent that they want to share that with everyone around them," he said,.
The second event this weekend is so large that it took 1,000 employees to manage the crowds and the offerings.
Brandenburg said his background for his inspiration at creating Salt Lake Comic Con came from his work creating computer games for 17 years, including for productions like A Bug's Life and Small Soldiers.
He and Comic Con partner Dan Farr also have been selling 10,000 products to 1 million artists worldwide with their business Daz3D.com, among a number of other ventures.
The two also were responsible for a Zombie Invasion Ball at the Utah Capitol in March that was a pre-Comic Con Fan Xperience event.
Fans who miss this weekend's event have nothing to fear. Another similar event is planned for six months from now. The Second Annual Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 will take place Sept. 4-6.
Meanwhile, there are many highlights to Saturday's event, not the least of which is the completion of an anticipated world-record-sized balloon sculpture.
Norman Reedus, star of the hit series The Walking Dead(tm), is a headliner name at the event.
He is joied by Walking Dead co-star Chandler Riggs, Brent Spiner and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation(tm), Kelly Hu from X2:X-Men United(tm) and Adam Baldwin of Firefly.
Also an attraction at the event is Karen Gillan from the British television show Doctor Who.
Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE.
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