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SXSW Interactive 2013

The Walking Dead Escape: From Print to Reality

Originating as a comic series, The Walking Dead brand has been successfully extended to TV and now its latest venture—participatory events. The Walking Dead Escape lets fans “live the apocalypse,” immersing them in the experience, and respective storyline, as survivors, zombies or spectators. In this session, Liam Brenner, producer of The Walking Dead Escape, and Dave Alberga, CEO of Active Network, will use the race’s popularity to discuss how the combination of mass participatory events and media can be utilized by other brands, and the implications of this trend for the changing way people participate in activities.

The Walking Dead Escape isn’t timed and doesn’t have a start arch; rather, participants are attracted because of the desire for a shared experience. Drawing on the success of this race, Liam and Dave will highlight how other brands can license an existing media property to take advantage of this burgeoning interest in social sports, and gain new fans in the proces.

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  1. The Walking Dead Escape is one example of how media companies can capitalize on interest and introduce new fans to their brand through mass participatory events, but what is the best way to handle this process? What are some of the challenges of leveraging an existing brand in a new context? What can we expect to see from the combination of mass participatory events and media in the future?
  2. With multiple parties involved, how can the original brand creator ensure consistency and be confident the event will not dilute the storyline, or the brand overall? In the case of The Walking Dead, what were the chief concerns of using the storyline in an obstacle race setting?
  3. How did The Walking Dead Escape design and market the event? What were the channels used to capitalize on the brand’s existing fan base? How did The Walking Dead Escape reach new audiences?
  4. How is social technology changing the way people participate in activities? What are some of the characteristics of people drawn to these social events?
  5. How can technology companies capitalize on individuals’ desire for more shared experiences? In the case of obstacle racing, for example, how can organizers use social channels to market to new participants?



Megan Lavine, Corporate Communications Manager, Active Network

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Culture and Entertainment
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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