Sometimes there’s a certain magic to marketing. Take the recent success of the movie Harry Potter, which is the second most successful movie of all time. At this year’s 12th Annual TransWorld Snowboarding Industry Conference (dubbed the Wilderness Survival Camp) held in Alyeska, Alaska, attendees were shown the entire movie marketing plan by Robert Schneider, VP of worldwide marketing and promotions for Warner Brothers, during the event’s first keynote address.
While much of what he said was probably beyond the scope of what snowboard companies were dealing with in terms of both budget and publicity, his explanation of the campaign’s objectives, strategies, and execution was both fascinating and enlightening. For those in the audience the speach provided a guideline for how they could conduct their own marketing campaigns.
When Warner Borthers bought the movie rights to the book, the company decided to treat Harry as a brand, especially with the potential of a series of seven movies corresponding to the seven books that will make up the series.
“We wanted people to visit his world, but not have him come to ours,” says Schneider. “And we decided his world should appeal to both kids and adults.”
Schneider then went through the whole marketing launch plan starting two years before the movie’s release, outlining the strategies and execution the company employed. It called for a long-term commitment to the book, and the company only signed one worldwide marketing partner, Coca Cola, while insisting on no product placement in the movie.
With it’s Coke partnership, Coke brands such as Minute Maid, Hi-C, and Coke all featured promotions and contests around Harry Potter, and the movie was visible everywhere Coke was distributed. Coke also added a cause initiative where it donated money and services to the groups Reading is Fundamental and the Library Collection Program.
Warner employed various different methods to market the movie, including billboard, magazines, and TV ads, and made its own Harry Potter Web site. Schneider also explained the extensive publicity campaign the company conducted, with magazines such as Vanity Fair, Premiere, Ladies Home Journal, and newspapers publishing stories about the movie before its launch. It also premiered the movie in London in a theater converted to a castle, with more than 50 TV crews and 180 print journalists covering the event.
In the end, Warner Brothers spent 30-million dollars to market the movie (which cost 150-million to make) and the returns were seen the very first weekend, when the movie recorded the biggest opening weekend ever, making 90-million dollars. It didn’t hurt that the movie itself was pretty good. “If it wasn’t, we would have wasted a lot of money and scrapped all plans for a second movie,” says Schneider.