Showing posts with label J.K. Rowling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label J.K. Rowling. Show all posts

Friday, June 24

Integrating Communication: Pottermore

J.K. RowlingIf you want to see integrated marketing at its best, consider the Pottermore campaign. With anticipation already building for the final movie installment and fans expressing bittersweet feelings at the thought that their favorite series was coming to a close, J.K. Rowling has given them something new to savor.

"I wanted to give something back to the fans that have followed Harry so devotedly over the years, and to bring the stories to a new digital generation," she said. "I hope fans and those new to Harry will have as much fun helping to shape Pottermore as I have."

And there's the linchpin to the buzzup, enough so that even entering an email address for upcoming registration announcements can take some time. (Some fans report that they attempted to register for 5 and half hours before their email was accepted.) The new site will allow fans to help expand the world of Harry Potter along with Rowling in October.

The site, which is being developed by Sony in cooperation with Rowling, is packed with ideas — some shopping oriented (an exclusive place to purchase e-books) and some interactive. The interactive portion includes registered members being asked questions by the Sorting Hat (placing newcomers in Hogwarts houses) and a Wand Chooser (which selects one of 33,000 possibilities).

That's for starters. Rowling will apparently add to the Harry Potter legend and, in contrast to some previous brush ups, encourage fan-generated art, stories, etc. (At the same time, it may also help the copyright holders to corral infringements.)


An Integrated Approach To Maketing: Pottermore.

• Press conference at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. (Traditional Publicity)

• Detailed electric press kit with preview pictures and pictures of the author. (Traditional PR)

• Shareable direct video message (although stiff) from the author on YouTube. (Digital Media)

• Early email page registration page for Pottermore, which also includes the video. (Direct Response)

• Upcoming contest where registrants will compete for one of 1 million spots to beta test the site. (Promotions)

• Cohesive position statement, carried forward across all promotion efforts. (Advertising)

• Dedicated timeline of events, stretching the campaign from the movie release through October. (Marketing)

• Full social media program including Twitter and Facebook. (Social Media)

• Full existing asset support from various fan forums and other online assets. (Co-Op Marketing)

• Dovetail marketing awareness generated by traditional movie marketing efforts, including television. (Traditional Advertising)

Integrated Marketing Makes The Allure Of Interactive Seem Fresh.

The concept of interactive stories (and online gaming) isn't new. Neal Stephenson, author of the Diamond Age was working with fellow author Greg Bear to cowrite a subscription-based historical novel about Genghis Khan conquests. The online story also includes interactive and participatory storytelling.

But what sets the Pottermore campaign apart is in the simplicity of the message (it's not littered with creativity) and integration of the marketing. Everything lines up and it works together. There is no need to think of every tiny piece as something that makes a marketing to-do list as Eric Brown recently proposed. No, there is no addition or subtraction of elements.

Everything that works is included. And if something doesn't work as well, there are some contingencies in the wings. For example, the Facebook presence seems largely overdone, with no clear path for fans to know which one to choose (other than by language, I mean). But consolidating those pages will be easy enough, especially after Pottermore fully launches in October.

By the way, I didn't include every marketing element in the hot list above. Sony has several more in play. The ones on the bullet list were chosen primarily to illustrate how elements of the campaign touch different communication principles.

Who's in charge? Having worked with Sony on a campaign before, my guess is that no one team member has any more authority than another (although directors do have oversight). Instead, everybody brings ideas to the table. And that's smart.

Friday, October 26

Outing The Media: J.K. Rowling

As hard as it is to imagine, one of the hottest topics on the Internet is the sexuality of a fictitious character. For days now, new media and mainstream media have all weighed in with opinions on the “Outing of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore,” the headmaster of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series.

It doesn’t really matter. And yet, it seems to matter.

The outing came seven days ago at New York City's Carnegie Hall. A young fan made the mistake of asking whether the headmaster had ever been in love.

"Dumbledore is gay, actually," said J.K. Rowling before revealing Dumbledore loved a fellow wizard, Gellert Grindelwand.

So, the correct answer might have easily been “yes, …” making a better distinction, perhaps, between love and orientation. But Rowling did not, and now the topic she chose is overshadowing any other merit of her books, good, bad, or indifferent. And that’s a shame. She hasn’t been able to go anywhere without it being asked about again, and again, and again. Her choice, I suppose.

Brands are fragile things, even for fictitious characters. Not that there is anything wrong with Dumbledore being gay, but Rowling has only succeeded in confusing an identity that fans have established. It could have been any other shocker; she could have said he was a Republican or Democrat. It doesn’t really fit because orientation isn’t what the stories are about.

From a communication standpoint, the dramatic brand shift for Dumbledore isn’t so much about him being gay as it is about a shift in his established brand. If you do not believe me that dramatic shifts mean something, ask Sen. Larry Craig.

Or maybe, as a complete contrast, we can look at Ellen DeGeneres. Nobody cares about her orientation anymore; they do seem to care about her joviality, which came apart over the Mutts & Moms controversy. In Canada, the brand bamboozling revolved around St├ęphane Dion.

My point is that reactions in the media and around the Web have less to do with what was announced and more to do with the degree of separation from what seemed to have been established. We might all keep that in perspective.

For example, Mark Harris, writing about Potter for Entertainment Weekly (linked above), made a poignant remark. He pointed readers to a story by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation that shows only 1.1 percent of characters on scripted network series are gay, which he says is an underrepresentation of their presence in the population. Maybe so or maybe not.

There are many shows where orientation doesn’t even enter the equation. Do we really need to know the orientation of every character? Big Bird, maybe?

This time around, I think Bill O’Reilly might have called it right. Rowling seems to be a provocateur. After years of claiming she has difficultly with the press, is "thin-skinned," and dislikes the fickle nature of reporting, none of that seems to be an issue any longer. It’s invited.

In many ways, Rowling’s revelation is a bigger brand shift than the one imposed on Dumbledore. With a single sentence, she demonstrated the sometimes triviality of reporting today; and proven she isn’t all that thin-skinned after all.

It makes you wonder. Who was really outed after Carnegie Hall?


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