Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Harry Potter Mysteries

Someone could write a great book about what marketers can learn from Harry Potter. And I’m not just thinking about the number of sales, or how fast they have been made. Certainly Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the fastest selling book in history and that is amazing, but I’m more intrigued by how Mystery has fueled the Harry phenomenon at every level. First, of course, there are the layers of Mystery at the heart of the story that have kept readers fascinated year after year. Then there’s the personal drama ignited by the way J.K. Rowling has protected her story. She has run a virtual master class in how to keep people guessing – and caring. The technical challenges overcome by the publishers, Bloomsbury, in keeping the final revelations about Harry on shelves but off the Internet, have their own fascination. However, what has astonished me has been the respect shown for the Potter Mystery by reviewers and commentators. This has been respect inspired not by the publishers or even by J.K. Rowling, but by the experience of readers. I’ve noticed what seems to me an unprecedented use of the term 'Spoiler Alert' in headlines to Potter stories. A warning to not to read what follows if readers do not want to find out what happens. Yes, the Consumer is Boss, and if you don’t respect their need to know, or need not to know, you’re in trouble. Anyone in the attraction businesses should be studying the Harry Potter experience very closely.

12 comments:

Susan956 said...

On this we agree :) I find it fascinating to look at the culture that emerges from or by way of the book and have wandered various online forums and spaces. You have your 'knit Harry Potter items' blogs, many (very true) 'Spoiler Alert' blogs, craft and play blogs and *then* there are just emerging 'anyone sick of HP' blogs now also and in them you can locate variations of discussion e.g. yesterday the report of the French teenager who has been arrested for translating the first 3 chapters of HP into English and posting them on the internet prior to the English version release. In these blogs people discuss copyright, wealth issues, sharing of information in the public domain and so on.

The vast majority of people are respectful of the 'rags to riches story of Rowling. MANY devoted fans are prepared to say they felt the first book actually not that well written but that Rowling hit her strides in later books.

People talk a great deal about the themes vis good vs evil and the embrace of the make-believe.

Rowling has many minders of course and would have received significant publisher/management advice on the guessing game. One wonders who her expert team were/are and whether their expertise will be sought in other fields. Then again, is it required? When you think of the lines for iPhones etc, is any further mystery etc actually required? (I'm not a consumer of these items as such so it's an open question).

CONSUL said...

Kevin, how about POTSISOMODOR? In good bookstores in 2009..(I guess SISOMODORPOT would not be the best option..).
CONSUL

Susan956 said...

consul...Potter d'amour?

Or..would cockney express

Arry Potta da more?

the paper bicycle; Peter Scarks said...

The interesting thing is the strategic implication. was the model constructed and then executed or is the model the result of the success of the book? Did Rowling know she was going to write this many or was the demand the inspiration for the work? So much work is put in to constructing and marketing the perfect story but it is exactly right that it is the mystery that has driven the growth. I would like to know if you think the experience has been diluted by the inconsistent imagery. Or do people just see Harry Potter?

Piotr Jakubowski said...

SISOMODORPOT. Taking it to the next level.

One of the reasons I respect the Harry Potter series is how the series motivated (and still does) children to read with such passion. Gone are the days when children sit back and read a book cover to cover (and in the previous series become antsy about the next release). With the same mystery and intrigue that people were motivated to read "just one more chapter" in the Da Vinci code, JK Rowling accomplishes that throughout her series.

Maybe I should get back and continue reading them...

Susan956 said...

I'm someone who's not interested as such in this genre and not easily swayed by media hype so I couldn't answer the inconsistent question aside from saying I see no themes of that in forums I have read. I see little discourse on the books as such (perhaps this would be different in dedicated fan sites of course) but rather the focus on the good vs evil I talked about previously, the fulsome imagination and the appeal that kids may feel empowered by the book to believe they can affect change.

I suspect this last element is an undiscovered (as in overtly acknowledged) truth here. I'm not sure it is 'mystery' as such that's the pivot here but the power of potential deed/action.

Kempton said...

Spoiler alert on HP7:

I tried my best to avoid spoilers on HP7 but, unfortunate for me, the editors of the freaking Chinese newspaper I scanned last month had the IQ of zero to put f*ing spoiler in five words right in the headline.

Yeah, they put a spoiler alert in small print in the beginning of the article which is pretty useless once I scanned the super-large font headline on the top of the page.

Tassos said...

Hi to all,

I don't usually post comments but I can't help it on this one...

Actually someone has written a book on what marketers can learn for Marketing from Harry Potter including branding and other aspects...

And actually a couple of years ago...:Wizard! Harry Potter’s Brand Magic - http://www.sfxbrown.com/sole-authored.htm

Stephen Brown talking...I read the book cover to cover and I loved it...It really breaks down the Marketing beihind the book (Or probably the book behind the Marketing)...I tottally recommend it!

Susan956 said...

Thanks tassos..will take a look! I would have been interested to know what you believed were the salient features of what the book profiles.

Kevin Roberts said...

paper bicycle – My thought is that the mystery developed over time. Consumer buzz, great story telling, and media activity would have fuelled the fire. The publisher’s marketing department would have known how to capitalize on this and maximize sales. Tell us what you mean by inconsistent imagery, I haven’t noticed a problem here.

Kevin Roberts said...

Tassos – terrific thanks, I’ll check it out.

Susan956 said...

Good-oh Kevin..perhaps *you* could offer those salient features at some stage of tassos doesn't see my query.