veryone loves a good news story and none more so than the directors of events in the consumer exhibitions industry. Consumer events, without that reputation for catalysing domestic and international trade, have had a harder time than their B2B counterparts. Not many have escaped unscathed and fewer still can honestly claim to have made progress in the years since 2008. Not so MCM Expo Group (MCM), organiser of six of the UK's most successful consumer exhibitions, a portfolio of pop culture shows led by the 27,000sqm MCM Expo London Comic Con at Excel. This year the event, a celebration of pop culture, movies, graphic novels, video games and related merchandise, expanded its comic village and launched a London edition of its Memorabilia event.According to co-organiser Bryan Cooney, the market it occupies is one of the few to emerge from the recession relatively unscathed. "In 2005 it was very much a collectors event. But we started to target video games and manga [Japanese fantasy and sci-fi cartoons]," he said. "The knock-on effect is that we began seeing a transition of our brand away from straightforward comics and movies and our audience became much bigger."Our growth started when we targeted those markets. Each year the show has grown around 15 per cent. We were at Excel when it opened and back then we had 4,000sqm in total. Today we have 27,000sqm split between the show floor [17,000sqm] and the queuing hall [10,000sqm]."At launch, MCM stood for movies, comics and memorabilia. But today the company owes its success to much more than this and has expanded on the concept. MCM has since launched two standalone events for its memorabilia section, held in Birmingham. In addition to this, MCM began targeting 'cosplay', whereby people dress up as their favourite characters from cartoons, video games or other pop culture franchises popular with the show's audience. "These guys meet a lot of each other on Facebook, but while Facebook offers many things, it can't help them get together and dress up as their favourite characters," said Cooney. Whether including cosplay manifests as additional business or not at the stands has little bearing on the exhibition. As a consumer event, the attendance of a thousand brightly dressed cosplay aficionados has a sizeable impact on revenues. Cooney claims MCM Expo London Comic Con is now Europe's most prominent cosplay stage, staging the EuroCosplay Championships for the past two years, won, incidentally, by the UK in 2011. There will also be a Birmingham edition of the MCM Expo at The NEC, giving MCM five comic con-type events with two others in Telford and Manchester.Of course there are other players in the comic con and memorabilia sphere in the UK. Showmasters SHOW CASE16 www.exhibitionnews.co.ukvery pop culturecan comic and fanboy events really be recession-proof? Antony Reeve-Crook speaks to McM expo Group's Bryan cooney about leading the way in one of the uK industry's most successful sectors Eruns London Film and Comic Con, as well as Collectormania, a host of events for collectors of merchandise and signatures. However at these events tables, rather than stands, are the order of the day. Showmasters looked to enter MCM's sector boldly with the launch of a new event, the Entertainment Media Show (EMS), but this was cancelled earlier in the year.Clarion perhaps came closest to challenging MCM with its summer event Empire Presents Big Screen, a joint collaboration with UK film magazine Empire. Time will tell if that event can make an impact on MCM Expo London Comic Con, but with Twentieth Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros and Universal among MCM's partners, that is no mean feat.Cooney said the MCM business model is a success because there's a lot on offer for the price of admission. "Shows such as ours, the Gadget Show and the Ideal Home Show offer a lot back - a place to meet like-minded people and experience the products without spending any additional money; something the students and kids who make up a lot of our visitors don't have in great supply," he claimed.Comic fan or not, MCM must be one of the more tempting acquisitions in the UK at the moment.
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