Issue: Sponsorship of Harry Potter film
News of Warner Brothers' sole marketing partnership with Coca-Cola for
the Harry Potter film was greeted with enthusiasm by industry
commentators and business analysts alike.
The deal, reported to be among the largest-ever global marketing
initiatives undertaken by either company, attracted praise for the
emphasis placed on philanthropy, literature, reading and community.
The decision not to include product placement in the film and to move
away from traditional marketing techniques such as give-aways was said
to be due to the influence of Harry Potter author, JK Rowling.
Purdue University Professor of Consumer Sciences and Retailing Richard
Feinberg claimed 'the partnership should prove a coup for Coke'
Coca-Cola was reported to be in need of a successful marketing campaign,
following unfavourable exposure over product contamination scares in
recent years, and slumping sales growth (wjs.com, 20/2).
Both Feinberg and Vertical Marketing Mix CEO John Zamoiski were
confident that the partnership between Coca-Cola and Harry Potter could
not fail to be a success (yahoo.com, 21/2).
Industry commentators, however, did not account for the actions of
Warner Brothers. The company's decision to send letters threatening
legal action over copyright violations to children who had created Harry
Potter fan websites generated considerable anger.
This action also inspired the creation of the 'Potter War' and the
'Defence Against the Dark Arts' campaigns, which called for a boycott of
all Warner Brothers' Harry Potter merchandise under the slogan, 'If
you're going to be nasty, you can't have any pocket money'
Although Warner Brothers admitted that 'the tone of the letters did not
take into account that Harry Potter is unique and many of the recipients
were innocent, young fans' (usatoday.com, 22/2), it did not retract its
demand for the surrender of domain names and closure of websites.
Defence Against the Dark Arts' mission statement bluntly asked if the
new 'price for corporate advancement ... (was) sacrificing children'
Commentator Mitch Albom concluded 'kids around the globe are getting a
new education, not about spells and potions, but about greed'
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research. More information can be found