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AOL Time Warner's Marketing Wizardry
December 2, 2001 6:23 PM   Subscribe

AOL Time Warner's Marketing Wizardry : "With its Hollywood studio, Warner Bros., AOL leveraged its promotional and advertising might across its empire of Internet, cable TV, movie, music and magazine outlets to ensure that kids, parents, teens and everyone else knew that "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" was debuting in theaters Nov. 16. In the days leading up to the film's release, tracking studies showed an extraordinary 100% awareness among moviegoers that "Harry Potter" was coming."
posted by owillis (18 comments total)

 
They made a MOVIE about Harry Potter? Why was I not informed?!

Seriously, though...I've got no problem with it; you could argue that there's also 100% awareness among kids that Santa Claus is coming, too. Hey -- it's AOL/TW's money to blow on advertising...money that they got from customers who willingly forked over $$$ for products & services they wanted. Win/win.
posted by davidmsc at 6:48 PM on December 2, 2001


Please replace the word "wizardry" with "monopoly".
posted by phalkin at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2001


Yeah, the whole world was buzzing about that Harry Potter kid.

But, here's a hot rumor, right off the wire, you probably haven't heard about yet -- they're going to make a movie out of Lord of the Rings! Who'da thunk it?
posted by MAYORBOB at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2001


If you doubt the AOL/TW monopoly at all, consider how many bad reviews of Harry Potter you heard. I didn't think it was that good of a movie (it doesn't stand on its own, only the people that read the books enjoyed it) and most everyone I know that has seen it agrees. Let's face facts, it's not that impressive of a film.

But look for a bad review. Did you see any? I had to work to find them, but for the most part all I heard were accolades. AOL/TW owns a sizable chunk of your TV dial, they have a whole swath of the magazine rack at your local bookstore, and are the single biggest ISP on earth.

It doesn't take a wizard to figure out why you don't see a whole lot of bad reviews for a bad movie.
posted by mathowie at 7:36 PM on December 2, 2001


Oh, I didn't have too hard a time finding a bad review. I usually go to Rotten Tomatoes so I get a good cross-section of reviews for movies I may want to see.

I didn't bother with reviews for this one, though. My kids read all the books, they wanted to see it, so they saw it. I stayed home and read MetaFilter.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:50 PM on December 2, 2001


mathowie: Sorry, but your argument is not logical. You can not deduce "AOL/TW is a monopoly" from "Harry Potter has few bad reviews".

Even if it was logical, it is not correct:

If you want to read some negative reviews of Harry Potter, there are 22 here.

Also, Disney's Monsters, Inc. has a higher percentage of positive reviews than Harry Potter. See?

I just hate it when people cry "monopoly" when something doesn't go their way. You didn't have to go see it if you didn't trust it would be a good movie. I know I didn't, and I'm not complaining.
posted by hitsman at 8:55 PM on December 2, 2001


I prefer Metacritic over Rotten Tomatoes. No reliance on reviews pulled from Web sites you've never heard of, and no unpleasant vegetable decay motif.

I didn't think the movie was that bad, and I haven't read the books. The first act was too short and the second too long, but it was acceptable, harmless big-budget Hollywood entertainment. Not a great film, though, for sure.

As far as the triumph of the AOL-TW marketing machine goes, I don't see it. If there were ever a movie in the history of cinema that had a built-in audience, this one is it. The real test of the megalithic marketing machine (or any marketing effort, for that matter) is its ability to create awareness, not just capitalize on it.
posted by jjg at 10:09 PM on December 2, 2001


mathowie: I'm a bit of a film snob, and I didn't read the book, yet I gladly paid to see Harry Potter at the theater a second time. I think it's very good movie that most certainly does "stand on its own". Don't you think you might be negatively reacting to all the hype, rather than judging the film on its own?

P.S. Saying it's "not that impressive of a film" is an opinion, not a fact.
posted by Potsy at 10:57 PM on December 2, 2001


I just hate it when people cry "monopoly" when something doesn't go their way.

I never heard a critical review of it on TV, or saw many in print, and I thought it had something to do with them owning a good deal of entertainment media that typically reviews movies.

I think it's very good movie that most certainly does "stand on its own".

I see similarities with the Star Trek movie series (long history of the stories in another media). I've never watched a full episode of any Star Trek series, but I think the Star Trek films make sense on their own. The characters are explained, and I don't have to know that the klingons were at war and killed spock or something to enjoy the storyline within the movie. The Potter film is easy enough to figure out, but several things that seemed pointless (making a big deal about which wand harry gets when shopping for school supplies) but that readers told me make sense in the 3rd or 4th book.

Saying it's "not that impressive of a film" is an opinion, not a fact

True. I only said it because of the 4-5 close friends that have seen it, we all agreed it wasn't that impressive. I thought it was a sort of Star Wars for 8-10 year olds (it ended with an awards sequence like SW). It wasn't terrible, and it wasn't that great. The only people I know that enjoyed it had read the books, so I deduced it must not be very good at standing on its own.
posted by mathowie at 11:24 PM on December 2, 2001


Two words: Anti. Trust.

I'm actually reading the book "No Logo" right now, so I'm especially hopped about this sort of stuff.
posted by hincandenza at 11:25 PM on December 2, 2001


I should point out -- one thing that I think affected my enjoyment of the film was that I generally don't watch TV, and was for the most part spared the bombardment of sheer hype that no doubt hit everyone who does. I actually had to look it up: "Oh, did it get released in theaters this week?" A lack of preconceived notions certainly helps.
posted by Potsy at 12:24 AM on December 3, 2001


phalkin, how is it a monopoly? AOL also sells advertising to other movie studios too. Are they not allowed to advertise on their own properties? That would be like saying NBC has a monopoly on Thursday nights because they're always running commercials for Friends.
posted by uftheory at 6:41 AM on December 3, 2001


> I didn't think it was that good of a movie (it doesn't
> stand on its own...

I'll bet you a dozen Krispy Kremes that this is true of The Fellowship of the Ring also.

> ... only the people that read the books enjoyed it) and
> most everyone I know that has seen it agrees.

Yeah, and I agree, too. Nevertheless it was the most fun I've had at a movie since Star Wars was brand new.

> Let's face facts, it's not that impressive of a film.

I don't think it was ever meant to be a stand-alone film; it's a sort of appendix to the books, meant to be a fun visualization stunt especially made for the (zillions of) pre-existing fans. (Evidence: in most movies that aren't supposed to be non-stop action/adventure flicks, scenes build to a climax and make their point, and then often the director will linger a bit to let the point sink in before going on to the next scene. That never happens in Harry - we have the scene, it makes its point, and then we immediately dash onward to the next scene. For two reasons, both connected with the book-fan audience: first, it's required in order to try to get in as many of everybody's favorite scenes as possible [I would certainly have bitched if some of my favorite scenes hadn't made the final cut]; and second, it's permissible because the book-fan audience already knows all the scenes and already gets the point.)

On those terms, as a movie-for-the-book-fans, HP was flat-out wonderful.

> But look for a bad review. Did you see any? I had to
> work to find them, but for the most part all I heard were
> accolades.

Well, I handed out some unenthusiastic reviews (verbally, they may not have reached you, heh). If anyone asks me whether they should see HP, I ask them whether they have read the books. If they say they haven't read them or didn't like them, I tell them they probably shouldn't bother with the movie. If they say they they liked the books, I say they should definitely see the movie. If they say they adore the books and know long stretches by heart, I say RUN, DO NOT WALK, and get in line NOW. You'll never forgive yourself if you don't see this on the big screen.

Remember, fuller's prediction is that every word of the above will apply to TFOTR as well. I only pray that the good people down in NZ have done as well by the book fans as the Harry Potter crew did.
posted by jfuller at 7:16 AM on December 3, 2001


On those terms, as a movie-for-the-book-fans, HP was flat-out wonderful.

That's your opinion. I've read all the books and love Harry Potter, but it just wasn't a good movie. It wasn't that my expectations were high, either -- It was just about as crummy as I expected.

If I take off my movie snob hat and try to enjoy it as a popcorn movie, it *still* wasn't good because of the silly special effects. They looked like an after school special sometimes.

I guess I'm spoiled by ILM.
posted by jragon at 7:29 AM on December 3, 2001


AOL using this "power" to promote a movie is no biggie to me, my fear is if they adopt some sort of political agenda/position they have an extremely powerful position with which to promote their position and squelch the opposition. Sort of the modern incarnation of this fellow.
posted by owillis at 7:45 AM on December 3, 2001


making a big deal about which wand harry gets when shopping for school supplies

Actually, that part is no better explained in the first book than it is in the movie, though I thought it adequately explained in both. If they do make more movies (which I believe they are already doing) it will likely be explained in the same sequence the explanation happened in the books.

I was a little suspicious too, because even when a movie really is amazingly good there are usually more people writing bad reviews. I think that it's primarily a kids movie may have helped it avoid some of that.
posted by Nothing at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2001


> (making a big deal about which wand harry gets when
> shopping for school supplies) but that readers told me
> make sense in the 3rd or 4th book.

Good heavens, it makes sense in the first book. There in the wand shop we're explicitly told "The wand chooses the wizard." Then we're told that the wand which chooses Harry is the second of a matched set of two, the first of which chose the principal villain of the entire series as its owner. I'd say that's a big deal. Remember what the man said about hanging a gun on the wall in the first act?
posted by jfuller at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2001


jragon: If I take off my movie snob hat and try to enjoy it as a popcorn movie, it *still* wasn't good because of the silly special effects. They looked like an after school special sometimes.

I guess I'm spoiled by ILM.


If I'm not mistaken, ILM contributed several special effects to the Harry Potter film.

And I thought a lot of those effects were spot on. In fact, I thought the movie was executed wonderfully, as any of the flaws that I looked for in the film were few and minor. I mean, to what standards do you hold a fantasy film, anyhow? Harry Potter was as good as the rest of them.

...It's also the AOL machine behind LOTR, so I'm sure the media saturation will match Potter's.
posted by Down10 at 10:05 PM on December 3, 2001


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