How the Harry Potter brand is pitching itself to Gen Z
Gen Z may have missed “Pottermania” at its peak, but J.K. Rowling and her team of “Potterheads” are making sure they do their bit to keep the magic of Harry Potter alive.
Yesterday, the new Pottermore — Rowling’s digital entertainment, news and e-commerce company devoted to the Harry Potter books and the wider “Wizarding World” — made its debut. Launched in 2012, it has undergone a makeover to capture the attention of a younger, more digital audience — keeping mobile users in mind with more entertaining content.
While the old site was an experiential Harry Potter encyclopedia with games that sorted users into Hogwarts houses and had them fight wizard duels, the new website contains “features, articles and news from the Pottermore Team,” as well as pieces from Rowling herself. One of the first is a Harry Potter backstory, which set the Internet abuzz. The relaunch was gathering steam on Twitter too, with over 1,700 tweets mentioning #Pottermore in a day, according to Topsy.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter fan site MuggleNet.com has launched a new global initiative called #PotterItForward, encouraging fans of J.K. Rowling’s mega-hit series to leave emotional and inspiring notes for a new generation just discovering the books.
Inspired by the “pay it forward” concept and focused around spreading the joy of reading, users are not only leaving heartfelt messages on post-it notes in copies of the books across bookstores and libraries but also sharing their notes socially on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #PotterItForward.
“Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Hogwarts were my best friends growing up,” said one. “If you ever need someone to listen to, always know that they will be there to welcome you home and take you on an adventure. Enjoy the magic!”
— Sierra Davenport (@sdavenpotter) September 10, 2015
“These stories took me through some dark times,” said another. “They were always there to remind me of something very important, that I hope it also reminds you of… That we are never alone.”
“We were fortunate enough to grow up with the hysteria and anticipation around the midnight release parties and the pre-booking lines for the films,” said Amy Hogan, creative team staff at MuggleNet.com. “We know we can’t recreate that, but what we’re trying to do is really impress upon the next generation in a small way.”
With over 450 million books sold so far, the Harry Potter series is the best-selling book series of all time. MuggleNet itself reached over 7 million viewers yearly during the peak of Harry Potter. But the site’s influence has been waning in recent years — with the site currently reaching about 2 million individuals a month. However, in the two weeks since #PotterItForward kicked off, the site claims it has reached more than 10 million people in 45 countries. Notes have been shared in numerous languages from — from Russian to Chinese — not surprising considering the series itself has been translated into over 78 different languages.
According to data analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, the spike in conversation on Twitter around the hashtag is ongoing. As of yesterday, the movement has been tweeted about 2,000 tweets.
Rowling herself favorited one of the tweets. Neither she nor her site Pottermore’s team responded to Digiday’s request for comment.
— Elayna Mae Darcy (@elaynamae) September 4, 2015
The initiative has a strong nostalgia component too. Since the days of midnight releases are sadly long over — the last book in the series came out in 2007 and the last movie came out in 2011 — MuggleNet was looking for a way to bring the magic back and, better yet, pass it on to the next digital-first generation.
The millennial affinity for nostalgia is well documented, and it seems Gen Z has picked up the trait as well: Crimson Hexagon data suggests that nearly 80 percent of those talking about it on Twitter are girls below 17 years old.
“There is some nostalgia at play,” said Hogan. “It was such a big part of our lives that we wanted to pass it on to the next generation and welcome them into the community.”
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