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How Harry Potter cast his spell over licensing

Source speaks to a range of licensees to find out more about the power of The Boy Who Lived.

While the core Harry Potter books have now all been published and the films released, the brand, and the wider Wizarding World are still very much in demand. Consumer experiences such as the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which boasts up to 6,000 visitors a day at peak times, Wizarding Worlds in Universal Orlando and Hollywood and Osaka, Japan, the touring exhibition, digital publication, Pottermore, shops and the stage show, go a large way to keeping the magic alive.

As the films continue with the Fantastic Beasts series, new content is still being added to the Wizarding World, and it’s being lapped up by fans, with the first two films taking between $650million and $800million at the box office worldwide and still more to come.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products also ensures there is new inspiration and content constantly being added to the licensee assets.

Emily Aldridge, head of licensing at GB eye, which had posters out for the very first movie release, explains: “Due to the rich heritage and ever evolving style guides that are produced by WB, we have created hugely successful ranges across all different themes, such as platform 9 ¾, the Hogwarts Express and Quidditch.”

Paladone has advent calendars launching for Christmas 2019.
Paladone has advent calendars launching for Christmas 2019.

And Warner works hard to protect the brand, as Alex Ryan, marketing manager at Paladone, explains: “Everything is sacred and nothing gets past their rightfully exacting standards. Brand protection has ensured that Harry Potter has retained its premium, magical feel, giving fans and suppliers alike comfort in the knowledge that their beloved stories will be represented for the rest of time in the way in which they know and love.”

Richard North, ceo of Wow Stuff, furthers: “Harry Potter and the Wizarding World has done well for us, because the licensor, Warner Bros., is as keen as we are to ‘Imagine Better’ for consumer product development. This has been the guiding mantra and combined with our passion for innovation and imagination the resulting products are hugely relevant to the fans.”

It’s also the fans, which many of the licensees cite as a key factor driving success. Robert Ling, marketing executive at Pyramid International, one of the original licensees, says: “Fans of Harry Potter are some of the most dedicated around; they want to feel part of the Wizarding World. So products that can capture the magic of the franchise are essential and newness for Pyramid comes from continually innovating our range to capture this magic.”

Boots felt it could have some real fun with its range.
Boots felt it could have some real fun with its range.

It was the breadth of the fan base which cast a spell on Boots, which launched a cosmetics and gifting range at the end of last year.

Elizabeth Hewitt, senior buying manager – seasonal, Boots UK, explains: “Harry Potter has really broad appeal to a diverse group of customers, from original Potter fans to those discovering the stories and films for the very first time. Interest in the brand and its franchises is undiminished and has been on our wish list to be involved with for some time.”

The wider retail interest of course mirrors that fan demand. As Emily Moores, trade marketing executive at Half Moon Bay, which offers over 300 Harry Potter lines, explains: “We’re lucky to work with some incredible retailers throughout the world, both multiples and independents. Our Harry Potter range has been particularly successful in the UK with the likes of Waterstone’s, Sainsbury’s Hamley’s Lakeland and Debenhams, as well as some wonderful international retailers such as Elbenwald, Gamestop and EB Games.”

The House Crests from GB eye (left) is a consistently best selling range, while the Marauders Map Heat Changing Mug is Half Moon Bay's bestseller of all time across all licences.
The House Crests from GB eye (left) is a consistently best selling range, while the Marauders Map Heat Changing Mug is Half Moon Bay's bestseller of all time across all licences.

Wow Stuff’s Richard agrees: “The Invisibility Cloak has been chosen by all the world’s major retailers, this is a first for us in selections and a recognition of the innovation success that the Wow Stuff team prides itself with.”

With all of these factors combined with the best selling book series of all time and the third highest grossing movie series to date, there’s no surprise the trajectory of the brand is continuing skywards.

GB eye’s Emily has the last word: “Harry Potter is a brand like no other – the care, consideration and love that has gone into the creation of every element of the Wizarding World and the way it is handled means that they have created a world that people cannot get enough of.”

Wow Stuff's award winning Invisibility Cloak is being stocked by major retailers across the globe.
Wow Stuff's award winning Invisibility Cloak is being stocked by major retailers across the globe.

Weaving magic

Earlier this year, Wow Stuff launched a real-life version of Harry’s Invisibility Cloak. The forward-thinking toy licensee teamed up with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to bring the magic to life using green screen technology, known as Chroma Key within the movie industry.

Months of intensive work and multiple attempts resulted in a successful prototype app being developed, using state of the art technology to create a movie-like quality special effects experience fans had previously only seen in films.

The app was developed in-house at Wow Stuff’s LA studio by Dr Mark Gasson, who is a leading expert in the field of online privacy. His work allowed for a unique authentication code to be created and assigned to each individual cloak product. Wow Stuff says few toys have ever combined an app which truly enhanced and became additive to the physical product’s gameplay.

The cloak is designed to be suitable for ages six and over, fitting all aspiring wizards and witches accordingly, and has garnered global press coverage from trade to consumer to the Harry Potter fan community.

This feature originally appeared in the autumn 2019 edition of Licensing Source Book. Click here to read the full publication.

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