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Posted at 10:23 PM ET, 07/25/2008

Swag: It's in the Bag at Comic-Con

By Liz Kelly

The self-satisfied look of the man with the swag: one conventioneer shows off his 'Watchmen' bag. (Liz Kelly for washingtonpost.com)


Each day, as the sun rises over Comic-Con, marketing geniuses at the big media booths unpack boxes of promotional doodads to hand out to conventioneers eager to fill up on free stuff -- stickers, posters, T-shirts, rub-on tattoos, plastic rings, hats and the ever-useful swag bag. As Jen mentioned in an earlier post, yesterday's hot item -- the animated "Wonder Woman" swag bag -- was supplanted today by the equally outsized "Watchmen" swag bag you see above. It's useful because the bags give you a place to put all your other swag. And so a million (okay, a few thousand) mobile billboards are launched out into the world -- helping, it is hoped, to build buzz for one's product.

And Comic-Con is all about the buzz. The kind of buzz you get when living in a vacuum. The harder an item is to obtain, the more coveted it becomes. That's why smart marketers -- like the Warner Bros. folks -- turn their freebie handouts into a quest, of sorts. This morning, for instance, instead of handing out their "Watchmen" T-shirts as the 6,500 bodies lumbered into gigantic Hall H for the panel -- volunteers instead handed out a ticket, instructing us to go to the Warner Bros. booth at 1 p.m. to get an "exclusive Comic-Con 2008" gift.

Many, like me, were disappointed to find out that there were apparently more tickets than T-shirts and left empty handed. I was downcast until I realized the thing would've probably ended up in my next bag of castoffs for Goodwill. But, such is the enchantment of Comic-Con. I would imagine one eventually "comes down" at some point after this is all over and consigns their haul to a box to be forgotten, given away or auctioned off on eBay.

But here at the convention center, attendees wear their swag like so many medals. It isn't unusual to see anemic looking lads laden with a giant stuffed swag bag, a button-encrusted lanyard, a mask, a T-shirt and a few poster tubes slung across his back like quivers of arrows, ready for swag war.

And he -- or she -- who has the most swag wins. At least at Comic-Con.

Browse the full photo gallery of pix from Comic-Con.

By Liz Kelly  | July 25, 2008; 10:23 PM ET
Categories:  Comic-Con  
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Next: Morning Mix: All Comic-Con Edition

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