FanConSEA’s Pauline Dizon on Marketing Through Fandoms
Manila/ Vibe/ Pop Culture

FanConSEA’s Pauline Dizon on Building a Business Thru the Power of Fandoms

Fan Con SEAs Pauline Dizon on Building a Business Thru the Power of Fandoms

If 2023 were any indicator, it can be said that we’ve so far been successful in making up for the dearth of live performances that the world grappled with during the lockdown-stricken pandemic years. Just ask any K-Pop fan and they will tell you how many fancons, concerts, and fanmeets they have attended in the past 12 months.

While the definition of being a fan may go far and wide per individual, it zeroes in on one thing — finding a community.

Pauline Dizon
Photo by Pauline Dizon

For Pauline Dizon, becoming a fan to building a business that leverages the marketing prowess of fandoms took a natural course. She co-founded FanConSEA, a Manila-based company that helps brands capitalize on fandom and pop culture across Southeast Asia through sponsorships, product licensing, bookings, and endorsements. Today, FanConSEA’s logo is a familiar sighting when you attend fanmeets and concerts.

In an interview with The Beat Asia, Pauline shared the hard work that goes beyond the glitz and chatter in mounting your favorite K-Pop event.

For those who don’t know, please tell us more about yourself.

I'm Pauline, the President and co-founder of Fan Connection SEA, a Manila-based agency dedicated to helping brands and businesses across Southeast Asia harness the influence of fandom, pop culture, and content to expand their presence in the market. Our expertise lies in facilitating various deals, including product licensing collaborations, artist bookings, and endorsement deals.

I completed my undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering, where I gained valuable concepts relevant to my current role, especially when it comes to our merchandising deals. Later on, I pursued a Master's [Degree] in International Commerce at Seoul National University to understand global business dynamics, with a focus on Korea's music industry. My thesis on Hallyu Marketing in the Philippines during my graduate studies was largely instrumental in shaping our strategies at Fan Connection SEA, offering insights into how companies leverage the Hallyu wave for their goals.

Your company has successfully brought a lot of international artists to Manila. How did the concept of building FanConSEA start?

Before the pandemic, the fan community's focus was predominantly on live entertainment. Fans eagerly spent on tickets not only for shows in their own cities but also for travel expenses to attend events elsewhere and see their favorite artists perform live. However, during the pandemic, spending habits shifted from live experiences to investing in fan merchandise. This surge in merchandise demand was a key driver behind the establishment of Fan Connection SEA.

Witnessing the spike in merchandise collecting within various fan communities, we identified an opportunity to connect local brands with licensing opportunities, enabling the production of merchandise locally. This approach bypassed the need for expensive imports and allowed for more affordable merchandise options for fans. Now, in the post-pandemic era, we are witnessing a resurgence in fan spending on live entertainment. They are now increasingly inclined to save up for concerts rather than spending on merchandise. Recognizing this trend, we've been pivoting our approach and began exploring opportunities to book artists for both promoters/event organizers and brands, aligning with the evolving preferences of their target markets.

0917 x Red Velvet Lookbook
Photo by Pauline Dizon

Do you have any influences that pushed you to enter this industry?

Music has always been a significant influence in my life. Growing up a fan of various bands and artists, including Panic! At The Disco, Phoenix, BIGBANG, and 2NE1, I've always associated their music with specific moments in my life. Beyond the emotions their music evoked, attending concerts further fueled my passion. This has propelled me into the industry through entrepreneurship, where we've built our network and rapport from the ground up.

In navigating the industry, can you share with us the challenges that you faced and how you overcame them?

It's crucial to collaborate with reliable partners who prioritize quality work, maintain good rapport, and ensure payments are made. Moreover, I believe that the industry, in general, remains predominantly male-dominated. As a woman, it's particularly important to carve out your own space and assert yourself. Being a small, young Filipina, I've encountered situations where I wasn't taken seriously as a co-owner of the company or where I was mistaken for an employee. I found it essential to be confident in myself and demonstrate my capabilities through my previous work. Ultimately, FanConSEA's work spoke for itself.

FanConSEA Team Photo
Photo by Pauline Dizon

What’s your favorite part of being a co-founder of FanConSEA?

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my work is being part of projects that deeply resonate with fans, a sentiment I share as a passionate fan myself. Our mission is to curate experiences for every type of fan. We've collaborated on projects such as merchandise licensing with Penshoppe featuring BTS and 0917xEXO, where our brand partners delivered top-quality output at accessible price points for Filipino fans. We've also facilitated endorsement deals that garnered much excitement from both core fanbases and the masses, like Sandara Park for ACER PH and Kim Seon Ho for UFC.

Venturing beyond Hallyu, we explored the Thai BL market for Makeitlive, one of our frequent promoter partners, for Dew Jirawat’s fanmeeting in Manila.

Witnessing fans passionately engage with these projects, trending hashtags on social media, and eagerly showing their support for their idols fills me with joy and reaffirms the significance of our endeavors.

Pauline Dizon
Photo by Pauline Dizon

With different projects and goals in mind for your company, how can you see the future of FanConSEA?

As a small company, FanConSEA has always been adaptable, and we expect our growth to continue, reflecting this trait. There is immense potential beyond the music markets and fan communities we currently engage with. Delving into these untapped industries for both booking and licensing opportunities is incredibly exciting. We look forward to expanding our scope to include fandoms in areas beyond music, particularly in countries outside of Korea, where we primarily work. The burgeoning Thai BL and music scene, as well as Japanese music, present promising avenues for exploration. In general, we adjust our focus to better meet the needs of both fans and the brands we collaborate with.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To know more about FanConSEA, follow them on Instagram and Facebook.

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