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Inside BravoCon: NBCUniversal's fandom event

Kerry Flynn
Oct 17, 2022
Kerry Flynn posing for a 180-degree slow-mo video at BravoCon in New York City on October 15, 2022.

Axios reporter Kerry Flynn, on assignment. Photo: Kerry Flynn/Axios

Among the screams from people seeing a so-called "Bravolebrity" and rushing toward them for a selfie, Axios walked the Javits Center halls this weekend with NBCUniversal marketing executives to experience BravoCon.

Why it matters: After the pandemic curtailed live events, the business has returned in full force. NBCU is betting experiential tied to Bravo and potentially other properties can be lucrative.

  • BravoCon "is the perfect demonstration in media today that is a convergence of a consumer experience and consumer behavior that doesn't exist anywhere else," says Linda Yaccarino, NBCU's chair of global advertising and partnerships.

The intrigue: NBCU's president of advertising and partnerships Laura Molen noted a commercial where housewives compete against professional football players.

  • "There's not that many brands that are as powerful as the NFL is for fandom. Bravo is," Molen says. "It's all about fandom."

Details: This was the second installment of the fan convention dedicated to the NBCU-owned TV network and its many popular franchises like "The Real Housewives," "Below Deck" and "Top Chef."

  • More than 30,000 people attended the event for panels featuring the franchises' stars and photo opportunities with them.
  • Brand integrations were ubiquitous — from Wendy's Frosty-tini to Lay's Housewife-inspired snacks to the onsite TRESemmé salon.
  • Bravo Bazaar featured about 60 brands — two-thirds were "Bravolebrity"-owned — that were available in-person and online in a metaverse-like experience.

What's next: NBCU sought to make this year's event much bigger than the debut. Compared to 2019, attendance more than tripled.

  • "In 2019, tickets sold out in minutes. The first thing we realized rather quickly was we need a bigger space," says Josh Feldman, CMO of NBCU's advertising and partnerships division. "This has become a destination for vacations for groups of friends."
  • Yaccarino didn't reveal any specifics about a BravoCon 2023 but says her team is thinking through it.
  • "You don't want to lose this lightning in a bottle," she says.
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