It is true, as we found with a recent client who asked to feature a couple of brand characters at dental conventions. It was a great way to engage people as they waited in line for our main theater presentation, and it gave our client additional exposure as the characters walked the trade show floor.
Our MPG team wasn’t surprised—we have extensive theme park experience and, thus, a lot of knowledge on the care and feeding of costume characters. If you’re considering using them at your next convention, here are some dos and don’ts.
DO: Invest in Quality Construction – Your character’s costume will take a lot of wear and tear, so make sure it’s well-made and durable. Have extra shoes/”feet” created, since these tend to get scuffed and damaged easily. Never underestimate the stress a costume will go through—you may even want to purchase a couple of back-ups.
DON’T: Leave Your Character Unattended – It’s hard to see in front of you when you’re wearing a character costume, let alone use peripheral vision. A costume character should be escorted at all times, for everyone’s safety. Even if your character isn’t in a full head mask, he or she needs protection from kids and even adults who might think it’s funny to mess with them. The escort can do some gentle scolding while your actor stays in character.
DO: Know the Boundaries – Each convention has its own rules about where your costume character can roam. Find out in advance whether he or she must stay within your booth footprint, and consider purchasing some extra space, separate from the booth, where the brand character can “live.” If your character is allowed in public areas, make sure they’re part of his or her regular route.
DON’T: Kill the Illusion – Working as a costume character is physically demanding, and your actor will need to rest for about 10 minutes every hour, in addition to lunch breaks. Make sure you provide a place where he or she can take off the head and sit that is out of the public eye. Plan for this in your budget, and make sure your actor is never seen in partial costume.
DO: Be Social – Since people are already taking photos of your brand character, let them know how they can tag you on Facebook and other social media. Your character’s escort can hand out small cards with the information. Likewise, post your own photos of your character interacting with crowds—make the most of it!