October 17, 2012
By Joyce Wang
Attention Muggles: About 10 years after JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was published, Universal Orlando Resort’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter broke ground. If you think marketing the theme park experience is easy because of the huge success of the series, think twice. “Our challenge is huge,” Alice Norsworthy, marketing evp, Universal Orlando Resort told marketers attending CTAM Summit during a session late Sun.
The team needed to do several things really well: staying true to the stories, reflecting the heritage of Universal (being innovative and immersive) and staying close to fans, she said. Fan expectations were “gigantic.” The goal is to build awareness, engagement and inspiration through all media channels. The trick is each media has a very distinct role to play, Norsworthy said during a Q&A with CTAM chief Char Beales. Digital and traditional media have worked really well individually but “the magic is how to make them work together,” she said.
Another magic trick is measurement. The marketing and sales team measures everything from social media to guest lists, Norsworthy said. Meanwhile, the ability to be innovative and creative in marketing played a big part in the success of the theme park since its opening in ’10. The marketing campaign was launched during the Super Bowl and has tapped partners like USA Today and Comcast to help promote the park.
Throughout the construction of the attraction, Universal created anticipation by keeping an aura of secrecy and only released bits of information to tease fans. “There comes a time when all of us must make a choice between what is right and what is easy—the choice we make define us. When in doubt, follow your heart,” Norsworthy said at the close of her presentation, quoting Rowling’s Albus Dumbledore.