In 2005, the film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe earned more than $750 million worldwide, with box office sales second only to Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. HarperCollins saw a significant boost in sales, selling more than 17 million units of Narnia products during the six-month period leading up to that film’s December release. Now, the publisher is launching Read It Before You See It, a digital marketing campaign that aims to bring more readers into the fold in advance of the next film, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, which Disney and Walden Media will release on May 16.
“We’re taking a classic brand and moving it into Web 2.0,” says Diane Naughton, v-p of marketing for HarperCollins Children’s Books, noting that the initiative marks the first time the publisher has created such an extensive online presence for a classic brand, as opposed to a brand-new property. “We want you to immerse yourself in Narnia and in all of the books,” she adds.
The publisher hopes to reach Narnia fans of all ages by using a combination of interactive applications and games, as well as targeted advertising, to market the books on social networking sites and online communities. “What we really tried to do was address the wide expanse of the audience for the Narnia franchise,” Naughton says. “We are reaching teen and middle-grade audiences through partnerships on Nick.com and Neopets.com, and are driving them back to our site.” Harper has also partnered with Yahoo! Kids and KOL, a section of AOL for children.
For older fans, Harper will promote the book in online communities including Facebook and MySpace, using Prince Caspian widgets, profiles and applications with updated information. A Narnia Trivia Challenge application for Facebook, for instance, allows readers to answer trivia questions to unlock information. “A lot of the content we’re creating here is exclusive,” says Naughton. “We want people to feel like they’re getting something no one else has now, and encourage them to share that with other readers.”
HarperCollins is also running a contest, which readers can enter through a Narnia microsite on HarperCollins.com. The grand prize is a trip for two to see the film’s New York City premiere on May 7; Narnia books, games and other items are offered as prizes for nearly 60 other winners. The microsite also offers trivia, games and information about the series.
Naughton believes that Harper will only increase its online marketing efforts for its properties moving forward. “We find that through some of these targeted promotions we are able to reach an audience we never could reach offline,” she says. “If we can get fans and readers to get the message out for us, that’s a win-win across the board.”