Marketing in earnest to work Harry Potter magic


The new Harry Potter movie opens on November 15th following the biggest marketing push behind any release into the Irish market. Warner Bros is spending €500,000 on the campaign for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - roughly twice the amount normally spent advertising a blockbuster movie.

The first Harry Potter movie grossed €6.3 million, making it the third-biggest movie in Ireland after Titanic and Lord of the Rings.

"The trick is to ensure that the adventure is big," says Mr Johnny Donohue, account director at Irish International, Warner Bros' advertising agency. "So there is television and press advertising, and the outdoor campaign is dominated by lots of 48-sheet posters."

Pester power, he says, accounts for around 60 per cent of the audience and the television advertising is targeted at 12- to 18-year-olds.

A peculiar feature of poster advertising for movies is that, according to research, people frequently recall seeing a television commercial for a movie when there has only been poster advertising.

This is because of our tendency to animate the posters in our minds and mentally mix them up with already-seen movie trailers.

The hype behind the movie began in earnest this week with extensive media coverage of the star-studded London premiere. The Dublin gala screening last night was more low key but it will be followed with heavily advertised "paid previews" before the actual opening next Friday.

Building momentum for the first week is particularly important because the equally hyped James Bond movie opens just five days after Harry Potter. "This isn't like selling something for the first time," Mr Donohue says. "It's a brand."

Just how much of a brand Harry Potter has become will be all too familiar to parents in the run-up to Christmas. Coke is the sole worldwide marketing partner for the movie and is running an on-bottle promotion. Mars has a licensing agreement so, for this movie Acid Pops, Fizzing Whizbees, Every Flavour Chocolate will replace last year's Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bots Every Flavour Beans.

Toymaker Mattel is "the worldwide master toy licensee" for the literary characters as well as for the feature films. According to the company, the launch of Harry Potter products is a worldwide effort involving the "judicious roll-out of product so as not to flood the market".

Annually, $92 billion (€92 billion) is spent on licensed products worldwide and, as well as confectionery, toys and games, there will be a repeat of the range of branded goods on offer, from Harry Potter spectacles to schoolbags, branded mugs to wallpaper.

There is an antidote to the hype and it made it into the UK best-selling books list this week. Michael Gerber's Barry Trotter and the Shameless Parody pokes fun at JK Rowling's characters, the plots and the apparently endless merchandising opportunities that the film offers.

Abrakebabra's new €1 million advertising campaign devised by Young Advertising airs next week. Using the tagline "Looks like everyone is eating at Abra", it features celebrity lookalikes and the campaign will be run on television, radio and outdoor. "Our objective is to reinforce Abrakebabra's position as a destination that appeals to all age groups," according to Mr Graham Beere, Abrakebabra's managing director.

Mr Caravousanos expects no negative reaction from the real celebrities because he says it is clear from the voiceover that the actors are lookalikes.