The Bonfire Agency came on the scene a year ago with some great ideas for giving all levels of the comics industry more information; this month they are spotlighting one of the best, FanPan, a consumer input panel of 500 pop culture users and influencers. It’s free to join FanPan, but brands and products can then avail themselves of FanPan input to test how their products will be received by the highly vocal and internet-savvy early adopters.

So yeah, it’s a focus group and focus groups can be a pain in the ass, but in this case it’s a valuable chance for market testing in an arena where a lot of people are simply flying blind.

There’s more info in the PR below, but if you’re interested in having your voice heard, go to the above link and sign up.

Bonfire Agency, the advertising and marketing firm dedicated to helping companies better understand and deepen brand engagements with more than 5 million passionate comic and pop culture enthusiasts, announced today a new phase of recruitment for the agency’s proprietary “FanPan” consumer input panel. Consumers interested in joining the panel may do so online at

“Comic culture is such an incredibly influential force – not just in entertainment, but in areas ranging from fashion and politics to dining trends and automotive design,” said Ed Catto, co-founder of Bonfire Agency. “Brands want to connect and engage with these ‘firestarters,’ but they need clearer insights into what they’re all about beyond comics.”

Launched shortly after Bonfire’s founding early last year, FanPan consists of a rotating membership of more than 500 representative comic culture consumers of varying degrees of “fan-aticism,” The panel was created amid growing concern about the lack of genuine research into who these consumers are, what they think and what they like.

“Surprisingly, most of what is passed off as consumer knowledge within the industry is self-reflective, assumptive and not very helpful when you’re trying to convince marketers to spend dollars connecting with the ‘geekiverse,’” said Steve Rotterdam, Bonfire co-founder and a former senior vice president of sales and marketing at DC Comics. “This is a demo that tends to be highly opinionated, iconoclastic and elusive. We’ve found that one of the best ways to find out what they’re thinking is to ask them what they’re thinking. Go figure.”

Among the consumers that Bonfire is talking to are members of the Fandom Advisory Network (FAN), a highly vocal, online group of comic fans eager to make their opinions heard. “The Fandom Advisory Network was formed to actively seek input from the entire fan community on the myriad issues facing collectors, so we believe it dovetails well with Bonfire’s goals for FanPan,” said Melissa Bowersox, Executive Vice-President of Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, which sponsors FAN. “Getting past the anecdotal data and opinions that have characterized or mischaracterized our business is essential if our marketplace is to truly thrive.”

Research projects that have involved use of the FanPan input panel have included online focus group testing of entertainment related advertising campaigns, qualitative research into the collectibles market, an evaluation of licensed product packaging designs and opinion polls regarding the appeal of potential promotional tie-ins between consumer brands and content providers.

“Advertisers and their media buying agencies are finding FanPan very helpful,” said Kris Longo, Bonfire Vice-President in charge of the agency’s ComicsUnited ad network. “They’re incredibly excited by its potential.”

“But in order for us to maintain the value and credibility of FanPan among the marketing community at large, we need to constantly rotate and refresh our membership,” added Rotterdam. “That’s why we’re actively recruiting new panelists.”

To join, consumers must register and complete an initial online survey at “Membership is free, but you must be 13 years of age or older to participate,” said Catto. “And you have to read comics.”

Once registered, participants may be contacted by email to take part in a variety of focus groups, surveys or moderated discussions. Compensation for each project ranges from direct payment (typically $2-$10) to special premiums like comic book variants or collectibles. Very often, participation will trigger an entry into a sweepstakes to win prizes of higher value.

Individual responses are kept anonymous and privacy guidelines are strictly adhered to. Answers are pooled with those of other panelists to represent how FanPan panelists think as a whole.

In many cases, participating FanPan panelists are sworn to secrecy. But maintaining secrets is something these consumers understand more than



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