FanX Fails to Find Their University Audience

Cosplayers+gather+in+front+of+the+stairs+at+FanX+2022.+%28Courtesy+%40fanxsaltlake+on+Twitter%29

Cosplayers gather in front of the stairs at FanX 2022. (Courtesy @fanxsaltlake on Twitter)

By Audrey Hall

 

FanX, Utah’s very own Comic-Con, has been a part of our state’s culture since 2013. With an estimated attendance of 125,000, FanX is one of the largest comic conventions in the United States. But what is the importance of this convention to Utah’s college scene? 

Are Students Even Attending?

On the weekend of FanX, the closer you get to downtown the more frequently you can spot a variety of cosplayers making their way to the Salt Palace. I was only able to attend on Friday, but walking around campus at any point from Thursday to Saturday left a disappointing impression on me. Not only did I see almost nobody heading towards TRAX in or out of cosplay with the intent of getting a photo-op with their favorite celebrity, but the looks I got as I was walking from Kahlert Village to the TRAX stop suggested that most people didn’t even know it was happening in the first place. 

FanX logo (Courtesy fanx.com)

And Why Not?

The most obvious reason one could find for the lack of college-age attendees is the pricing. Tickets for one day were as low as $23, but Gold passes and VIP passes could amount to as much as $110. While a one-day pass is fairly reasonable, there are the added costs of food — which one could compare to stadium prices at a football game — merchandise, and autographs or photo-ops. 

FanX has inadvertently marketed against their college patrons just with their prices, and it’s made its impact on Gen Z.

On why she didn’t attend, junior at the University of Utah Emma Bernards said, “I don’t have money, because housing and food and tuition aren’t cheap and I can only work part-time due to attending uni full time.”

It’s also important to take a deeper look at the celebrities that attended this year. Billboards dotted freeways across the valley stating, “More guests than ever!” boasting the 77 guests this year. But does the quantity of guests qualify the lack of quality? The cast of “Cobra Kai” and “Stranger Things” attract a junior high to high school audience, and the cast of “Happy Days,” “The Brady Bunch” and “Blues Clues” attract a millennial to Gen X crowd. The celebrities that are more likely to speak to college students are the voice actors included on the master list of guests. “Attack on Titan,” “My Hero Academia” and “Dragonball Z” all make an appearance, but they are all so low on the list that a first glance won’t create an immediate pull. 

The Impact

As of 2021, Utah’s population of 20 to 34-year-olds consists of under 110,000 more people than the 35 to 49-year-olds, so why not make an attempt to market to the universities? When freshman Justus Craigle was asked what he loved about attending FanX, he said, “I just love to see how much passion people put into their art, whether that’s selling art or cosplay or whatever else.” This just goes to show that if given the chance to attend, university students will have just as good of a time as anyone else. 

 

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