TV & Streaming

After a two-year wait, NBCUniversal brought its brand-tastic BravoCon back to New York

The three-day reality TV bonanza featured 19 sponsors and dozens of retail partners like Bud Light Seltzer and Chevrolet.
article cover


· 4 min read

You know what they say: good things come to those who wait. But for NBCUniversal, it took nearly three years of patience before the company could again host a fan event dedicated to its reality franchises like Real Housewives and Below Deck.

After a hiatus due to the pandemic, BravoCon—a convention chock-full of celebrity appearances, cocktail parties, panels, performances, and photo ops dedicated to all things Bravo—returned this past weekend to the Javits Center and the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. It was the second such event since the company hosted the first BravoCon in 2019, and ahead of its Friday kickoff, NBCUniversal had already sold 30,000 passes.

“We hated waiting, because we had such a successful inaugural BravoCon,” Ann Scheiner, NBCUniversal’s EVP, advertising and partnerships, told Marketing Brew. “But it’s definitely worth the wait because it’s so much bigger and better than it was in 2019.”

Let’s quantify bigger and better: Ticket sales this year (which started at $170 for a one-day pass but went up to as much as $1,950 for a three-day VIP package) represent a threefold increase from the 2019 festival’s 10,000 tickets sold. On the sponsorship front, the media giant lined up four times as many sponsors as it did in 2019, with a total of 19 brands representing 11 new categories compared to its first year, including Bud Light Seltzer, Chevrolet, and TRESemmé.

a Bud Light Seltzer setup at BravoCon


It’s all happening

The convention and its nearly two dozen brand sponsors have been a long time coming. BravoCon officially went out to market in February of this year, and attendees of the NBCUniversal upfront may remember a Bravolebrity-studded portion of the presentation devoted to BravoCon, featuring celebrity appearances from Vanderpump Rules and Summer House.

There was plenty of room for food and beverage brands to show off. Lay’s, another presenting sponsor, served special dishes and cocktails during sponsored happy hours, while Bud Light Seltzer hosted a Saturday night “after dark” party for convention attendees featuring—what else?—the canned beverage. Before that, sparkling-water brand bubly served cocktails and mocktails from a bar area for the shows Summer House and Winter House.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.

Other brands came back for the second convention bigger than ever. State Farm, which created a “She Shed” on the convention floor in 2019, erected the “Bravohood,” featuring houses that were odes to various Bravo series and characters.

a State Farm setup at BravoCon 2022


And, of course, there was commerce. More than 60 brands, including show-related merchandise as well as product lines from Bravo stars, were featured in the BravoBazaar. There, attendees could scan QR codes with their phones to purchase items (and designate delivery preferences) instead of waiting in a checkout line or hauling around shopping bags. (Online, the Bravo Virtual Bazaar, which debuted less than a year ago as a virtual shopping destination, quadrupled in size so far-away fans could also shop ’til they dropped.)

Made it nice

Scheiner said brand interest in BravoCon stems not just from Bravo’s connection with its fans but from the growing interest in in-person experiences. However, some sponsors, like auto brands Chevrolet and Infiniti, opted to focus on BravoCon’s social presence to tap into IRL and virtual audiences alike.

“There’s that ability to connect across our entire ecosystem,” Scheiner said. “I think that is really what makes it so successful for everyone.”

Wherever they are, many Bravo fans—dubbed by the company as Bravoholics—are really into Bravo. After the first BravoCon was held in 2019, the company found a stunning fact in a post-event survey: more than 75% of attendees said BravoCon was one of the best weekends of their lives.

“And that included their wedding and the birth of their children,” Scheiner said.

It’s a stat that Scheiner said is representative of the fan-filled opportunity that NBCUniversal sees in its growing roster of Bravo properties and franchises, whether they air on cable or on streaming platforms like Peacock.

“They’re the reason why we have 10 different franchises of Housewives,”  Scheiner said. “They’re the reason we have three different franchises of Below Deck. They are fueling BravoCon.”

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.