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‘Harry Potter World’ global campaign launch

‘Harry Potter World’ global campaign launch

Best practice from Fleishman-Hillard


Harry Potter is a phenomenally successful and ubiquitous global brand that has significant and far-reaching appeal to an audience spanning every generation and background.

Fans the world over have a strong bond with the franchise, many having a relationship that began several years ago with the first book, continuing today with the myriad sequels and movies.

Having agreed a deal to create a lasting legacy for the franchise in the form of a “theme park within a theme park” at Universal Orlando Resort, Warner Brothers and Universal sought a way to communicate this to the fan base in a way that would ensure acceptance and buy-in at every level.

On top of this there was a requirement to deliver global on and offline media results within a local sized media budget.

Universal Orlando Resort’s PR Agency Fleishman-Hillard (FH) Travel & Tourism was tasked with devising a way to seed the news to the people it would impact on most.


It was decided early on in the strategic planning phase that the online communities that exist around the shared love of the Harry Potter brand should take precedent over traditional media and be the very first to receive the information. 

The rationale was that by embracing these communities, affirming their importance to the franchise and providing the individuals concerned with the tools to go forwards and tell the story for Universal, the news would quickly and effectively spread throughout the world.

Importantly, this approach would also give Universal Orlando Resort the endorsement of the fan base and guarantee they became our international ambassadors.

As such, FH Travel brought in the skills of FH Digital, the agency’s full-service digital practice, and broadcast specialists USP Content to design, plan and implement a webcast live from the Harry Potter movie set at Leavesden studios in Hertfordshire.

Additionally it was decided that one key print publication and one key broadcast outlet should be selected as traditional media partners for the UK’s nationwide announcement to help drive the news agenda on the day of the launch.


The ten most influential individuals in the online arena – the webmasters and owners of the biggest Harry Potter fan sites and message boards - were identified.

Via exclusive email invitation devised by FH Digital and USP, they were invited to attend a live webcast within which Scott Trowbridge, SVP of Creative Services at Universal, and Stuart Craig, three-time Academy award-winning production designer of the Harry Potter movies, announced the inception of the park.

Taking place on the set of the movie in London, England, the audience were given access to exclusive artwork and the opportunity to pose questions in real-time via a purpose-built microsite.

It was decided to offer The Times the story on an exclusive basis, with a view to setting the agenda for the media coverage that was to follow. The well respected newspaper was given advance access to the press release, artwork and an interview with Scott Trowbridge.

Additionally, FH Travel & Tourism targeted BBC Newsround, offering the institutional children’s news show an advance opportunity to report the story from the film set itself for broadcast on launch day.

In addition to art work and an interview with Scott Trowbridge, the crew were allowed to film and present from Dumbledore’s office, a location guaranteed to engage their viewers.   

Managing the buzz

Almost immediately after the webcast, the news spread across not just the fan sites, but other online news sites, blogs and social media spaces. This intensified a few hours later when the original participants were sent a branded video highlights package and the exclusive artwork they had seen. 

At the same time the content was offered by FH Digital to major online media channels, such as MSN, to include alongside coverage.

Building upon the buzz

The strength of the story and the enthusiasm the approach had generated amongst the die-hard fans acted as a catalyst with traditional media throughout the world, helping to deliver over 1,000 individual pieces of coverage within 24 hours. 

Immediately following the live webcast and the release of The Times’ exclusive story, FH Travel & Tourism embarked on an aggressive media relations campaign, pushing out the news story and associated collateral to media nationwide to selected target companies across Europe and Asia.

FH Travel & Tourism offered Interviews with key figures from within the project to selected media to allow journalists the opportunity to grow and develop the story. Most significantly, it was arranged for BBC One to interview Stuart Craig at the film studios for The Six O’Clock News show.


Traditional media. Over 1,000 pieces of coverage generated across national and international press and broadcast media within 24 hours of the announcement.

Exclusives. The Times exclusive resulted in a front cover flash, a full page spread on page three of the newspaper, and comment on page sixteen. The total Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) of the coverage was worth a £69,224. The paper helped to drive and shape subsequent news coverage and acted a catalyst for widespread morning broadcast opportunities, including The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4, Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2, BBC Breakfast News and GMTV. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter received 3:13 minutes of airtime on BBC One’s Newsround later that day, worth £112,055.

BBC One, Six O’Clock News. The Stuart Craig interview aired on one of the nation’s most important new channels, with coverage worth in the region of £257,415.

Top story, top search.  The story was the most-read article on The Times Online for over 24 hours.  Yahoo and Google listed over 6.5 million searches.

Social media storm. More than 18,000 blog posts were made expressing positive sentiments towards the announcement, totaling approximately 0.3 per cent of all global blog posts that day.  The exclusive artwork was reproduced online over 8,000 times.

Enormous reach.  Over 175 million individuals read, saw, heard or talked online about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the week that followed the announcement.


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