Complex Media is joining the growing number of companies launching proprietary events.

The youth culture juggernaut next month will bring its digital content to life at ComplexCon, a two-day celebration of music, art, food, style and pop culture at the Long Beach Convention Center in California.

Billed as the “first-ever cultural World’s Fair,” Complex has curated the event with a host committee of experts including legendary artist Takashi Murakami, cultural director/executive chair Pharrell Williams and world-renowned electronic music producer Skrillex.

In addition to Skrillex, ComplexCon will feature performances by Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, Chief Keef and a host of other musicians, as well as pop-up shops, panel discussions, art installations and culinary experiences.

Sponsors of the Nov. 5-6 event include Smirnoff, Mountain Dew, Jack in the Box, Infiniti and Puma. Some of the companies are existing advertisers (Mountain Dew, etc.) while others are new to the Complex fold (Infiniti, etc.)

ComplexCon also represents a coming out party of sorts following Complex’s 2016 acquisition by Verizon Hearst Media Partners, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Hearst Corp.

IEG SR spoke with Marc Ecko, Complex founder and chief branding officer, about the thinking behind the festival and other topics.

Below are edited excerpts from the conversation.

How ComplexCon came to be
We have given a great deal of thought about new products as we expand our platform and our brand. Having come out of the fashion industry, I was exposed to trade shows and physical, retail-like activations.

Having seen the innovation in the space over the last decade, and as we were ideating some sort of product, a friend of mine who runs Agenda (an action sports/streetwear show produced by Reed Expositions) serendipitously asked if we had thought about doing something in the space. I visited one of his events, saw the operation and took inventory. There’s good infrastructure there.

Being a fan of New York Comic Con and attending South by Southwest for the better part of the last 10 years, I have often envisioned creating something like this.

On using ComplexCon to promote multiple content sites 
Pigeons & Planes is all about emerging music; it has a strong track record and a big following, especially among people who follow what’s next on SoundCloud. Pigeons & Planes will sponsor a daytime music stage. It pushed us out of our comfort zone of publishing content to thinking about how the brand will be realized.

First We Feast has a show called the Hot Ones. It’s hosted by Sean Evans, who has become a viral sensation. The show gets two to four million views per episode. Being able to shoot the show live in the middle of an event, with food curated by First We Feast, is a great way to bring the brand to life.

When you think about the totality of the event, it brings intimacy back to media. If we were a linear TV channel we might have done an awards show. We wanted to create an innovative, mark-your-calendar type of cultural event like Comic Con.

On sponsor reception to the inaugural event 
It’s been a pleasant surprise how the new format is additive to our business. Companies are bringing their energy and resources to make something that five years from now will be as influential as South by Southwest. The community of brands and agencies has come together, they have our back and are taking a leap of faith to help us build something unique and different.

On leveraging with employees
We have 400 people all over the country focused on literally hundreds of products each week. Having something that everyone can rally around is amazing. It’s a net positive beyond what it does from a revenue point of view. We’re materializing the brand in the real world, it’s helped the organization, and we’re looking forward to this year’s event as well as next year.