Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter: More Than Just Marketing

By Madison Pollard
Junior reporter
LONDON, England – Harry Potter. Whether you love it, or you hate it, there can be no doubt that it has become an international phenomenon.
Why? The books are exciting, and they had a clear target audience.
When the first book was released in 1997, its target audience was young, about 4 to 7 years old. Now, the last film has just been released and its target audience are those in their late teens or early twenties.
So the book, which is nothing more than a simple story written in an easily understandable style, has become highly successful due to great marketing and word of mouth.
The films feature some of the most well-known actors in the world, including Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, and many more.
This alone is enough to make some people contemplate sitting through the films, regardless of whether they enjoy the plot.
This raises another issue.
When closely examined, the book is a simple novel, using phrases long since banned by English professors the world over, such as ‘said X.’
However, there are elements that make it captivating, especially basing it in a world where those with and without magic exist.
The inclusion of magic in any story seems to make it a hit with children, offering the opportunity to experience a world that they could only dream of.
As the books progressed, and the target market grew older, the themes developed to include ones such as coming of age, love, family and death, which J.K. Rowling insists is the main theme of the books.
As the series progressed, the plot lines grew more subtle and interwoven, to continue to capture the attention of the ever-expanding target market, which had since gone international.
It is estimated that the series has sold 450 million copies in 67 languages, showing that it truly has become a global phenomenon.
So, if it really is just a simple plot, and clever marketing, why do so many people love it?
Harry Potter offers a chance to escape, and imagine yourself in a world of amazing power.
The issues the characters face are realistic, with friendship troubles and awkward teenage relationships.
These serve to make the book easy to relate to for the target market. This, in turn, makes the books more enjoyable for people to read.
The first book was released in 1997 so between the seven books and eight films it has formed a great part of people’s childhoods.
I know that I remember queuing several times at midnight in London to get the latest volume as soon as possible after it was released. They were magical in themselves.
The books are more than just a series, They are a brand, an icon and a legend. They have shaped the childhoods of today’s youth.
They deserve great praise.
But, did Rowling really have a stroke of genius, or was it all clever marketing? Who can say?
Personally, I believe it was both.
Yes, using famous actors and hyping the films before they are released likely helped, but without a good story to form the solid basis, the marketing would simply have collapsed.
This series changed lives. May it live on!

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