CTAM: Casting a Spell On Harry Potter's Biggest Fans
Universal marketer on exceeding big expectations
By Andrea Morabito -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/14/2012 7:06:00 PM
"Expectations were enormous," Alice Norsworthy, executive VP of marketing and sales for Universal Orlando Resorts, said at yesterday's CTAM Summit general session. "Imagine being the potential one who missed this big opportunity for the company."
To get the series' ardent fan base excited about the theme park, Norsworthy said her team stuck to four principles in marketing the opening: Stay true to the Harry Potter stories, reflect the heritage of Universal, stay close to the fans and expand the theme park's network of partners.
Initially, Universal first went to the fan base to drum up interest, sending an invitation to a midnight webcast to seven Harry Potter fan sites that then spread the word about the announcement. Then the marketing went dark for two and a half years, with Norsworthy's team sending only a few photos during that time until they revealed the full details of the attraction through another webcast in September 2009.
Universal then officially launched its TV ad campaign with a spot in the 2010 Super Bowl - "We wanted to go big," Norsworthy said. Then began the media blitz with its corporate partners: NBC's Today show held a contest to search for a worthy school to win a field trip to the park, The Celebrity Apprentice filmed a segment on marketing the attraction and Warner Bros.' Ellen shot the talk show in Orlando to get a sneak peek at the attraction.
By the time the Wizarding World opened in spring 2010, the marketing team had rolled out a TV special showing the process of building the attraction, fan contests to win trips, themed airplanes and travel planning tie-ins, among other marketing efforts.
And for Norsworthy and her team, it paid off - on the day the Wizarding World opened, traffic was already backed up outside the Universal Resort parking garage at 5 a.m.
"I wasn't going to believe it until I saw it," Norsworthy said of her expectations. "I went back every day for 30 days to make sure they were still coming."
While Universal doesn't release attendance figures, Norsworthy said within six months of opening, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter helped Universal be named the fastest-growing theme park in the world with double-digit attendance growth. In another sign of its success - by the end of the year, the park had sold 1 million Butterbeers, the favorite drink of Hogwarts students.
Norsworthy told attendees the two lessons she learned from the massive project were "how content can inspire great marketing" as well as "the relentless pursuit of quality."
Those two lessons are surely shared by the winner of CTAM's 2012 Mark Awards, also presented during the general session. Accepting at the panel were USA Network/NBCUniversal, who was honored with the Top of the Mark Award for their "Characters Unite Month" multimedia campaign combating predjudice and discrimination and Cinemax, which was recognized with the Most Innovative award for their "Strike Back Super Wall" to promote the premium network's first original series, Strike Back.
No related content found.
No Top Articles
Digital Rapids provides market-leading software and hardware solutions, technology and expertise for transforming live and on-demand video to reach wider audiences on the latest viewing platforms more efficiently, more effectively and more profitably. Empowering applications from..more