It’s the middle of August, the Secrets of Dumbledore Blu-ray and screenplay have both been released, Fantastic Beasts 4 hasn’t been announced yet, and there’s nothing to quite look forward to right now. The fandom feels to be in a bit of a state of limbo, with even the official accounts having all but cut off contact with the fans, leaving us not knowing whether we’re coming or going. In light of this, I thought I would throw out into the universe some of the things I’d do to keep the fandom alive if I were part of the Fantastic Beasts marketing team.
1: FB4 Announcement
Did you know that before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out, Warner Bros collaborated with The Mirror newspaper to bring out a special edition of The Daily Prophet which included fun details and competitions for kids before the film released in cinemas?
This was absolutely phenomenal marketing at the time (before the age of social media), and I’d love to have the spirit of it brought back. Instead of duplicating the above, for the announcement of Fantastic Beasts 4 I would send an exclusive Daily Prophet edition to prominent fans and influencers with articles (written as if in-world) detailing the story up until now.
In addition to that Daily Prophet newspaper I would include Ministry of Magic documents that would either hint to the plot of the fourth installment, or fill in the blanks with information that was missed in the cuts of the third film (akin to the background information that J.K Rowling wrote for Pottermore before the first film).
From the foreward of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander:
“I am not yet in a position to tell the full story of my activities during the two decades that Gellert Grindelwald terrorised the Wizarding World. As more documents become declassified over the coming years, I will be freer to speak openly about my role during that dark period in our history.”
‘De-classifying’ the documents is the perfect way to both market the film in a fun way that involves fans, but also as a vehicle for missing information.
2: Holiday Magic
Speaking of involving fans, there is a disconnect between the film and its fans that is unfortunately currently felt to be at its lowest point. To rectify this, I’d bring the spirit of the fandom in 2016 back by involving fans in the marketing once again.
Announcements like in point 1 above are great events, but how do you keep the fans engaged all year round, even when nothing is particularly happening? I’d personally highlight holidays with a bit of magic. Take Christmas for instance – erect a large tree at the Warner Bros Studio Tour, use Newt’s case as the base, making it look like it’s popping out, and add a large number of bowtruckles to the tree (this could even be in collaboration with Running Press, who makes these mini Picketts for fans to buy). Post on social media and whoever guesses the correct number (or closest) of bowtruckles wins. The prize could be a Newt’s case with Pickett and some other Fantastic Beasts decorations, or anything along that line.
It’s fun, involves the fans, costs them nothing to enter, but also lets those who pay for tickets to the WB Studio Tour to have a better chance of guessing correctly.
For Easter I’d send a small Newt’s case printed box with silver ‘occamy’ eggs inside – nothing big or particularly costly, it’s just to keep Fantastic Beasts in everyone’s minds while there’s not much other news going on.
Then for Valentine’s Day I’d suggest sending cards to influencers and/or a number of fans, as if sent to one character from another, which would either allude to pairings from Secrets of Dumbledore, or ones to come in the fourth film. Here’s an example of a foiled card I made after Crimes of Grindelwald with a poem from Albus Dumbledore to Gellert Grindelwald:
The poem reads:
‘Our blood ran red
Your fire burns blue
Even the Mirror shows how
my heart has always been with you’
Is it necessary? No. Is it a fun way to keep Fantastic Beasts and its characters in peoples minds? Yes. After all, what’s a fandom without all the theorising over ships?
3: Fan Events
Finally, I would bring back fan events. What made 2016 a standout year in the fandom was the integration of marketing with the actual fans. There were multiple fan events in the months leading up to the release of the first film and I cannot put into words how much those events meant to fans.
Fans appreciate when fans are appreciated, which means that even though so many didn’t get to attend these events, they were so excited for all those that could – because they were all part of, and contributed to, the same fandom. Not to get into it, but it’s very different to fans seeing only influencers being invited to these special events. There’s a huge sense of community to fandoms that shouldn’t be overlooked.
However, if influencer marketing is still the way they’d like to go, I’d also suggest another form of fan event closer to the release of the fourth movie. You’ll notice I left out Halloween in my Holiday suggestions because for the time between Crimes of Grindelwald and Secrets of Dumbledore, I had the idea of a Murder Mystery Halloween Party at the Warner Bros Studio Tour. I came up with the plot before we had any idea of where the third film was headed, it just so happened to have been fairly close, but the premise was after the events of Crimes of Grindelwald, the International Confederation of Wizards decided to hold peace talks due to Grindelwald’s rise in popularity, with all of the characters being brought in to be witnesses.
Each guest coming dressed as their assigned Fantastic Beasts character, about 20-30 in all, and would mingle with one another finding out clues of information to put the pieces together. I’d suggest this closer to the film’s release date so you could add some new information that may seem trivial at the time to the guests, but would light up the fandom online with theories as it comes out.
Those are my top three hopes and ideas for the future of Fantastic Beasts‘ marketing campaigns – so what do you think? Would you like to see ‘de-classified documents’ in the future? Have a suggestion for something else you’d like to see? Let me know over on Twitter!