What a ride! I joined Warner Bros. Consumer Products as the Vice President of Global Marketing, Theatrical and DC properties, and within a few weeks, a book was placed on my desk entitled, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. My role was to work with the author to visualize the story for consumer products because the movie wasn’t yet in development! Oh and by the way, there were six more books to follow this highly successful first book.
I drafted a brand and marketing plan for a two pronged approach to developing consumer products based on the brand. We would build an illustrative classic Harry Potter program that would be faithful to the books – this would be the evergreen program. Additionally, we would develop a theatrical merchandise program to release around each theatrical window. The strategy was to ebb and flow the programs around the theatrical windows with the goal of creating a new right of passage through the magical world of Harry Potter for both girls and boys.
I developed numerous marketing and creative materials for the program, establishing the look of the brand, which continues to this day ($22 billion dollars later!). My favorite of these would have to be the very first style guide, the illustrative guide for Harry Potter. We poured over the book and developed concept after concept to present to Jo Rowling. It was a magical journey (sorry no pun intended!) and an experience I will cherish always.
Jo’s vision for her property was nothing short of magnificent. She is incredibly inspiring and even back then had developed a tremendous amount of backstory about every element of Harry Potter’s world – she had all of the stories behind the stories in the books. Working with her was an inspiration to build a merchandise program that was faithful to her books.
I also honed in on an under-developed character in the DC Comics universe, Supergirl. During a frenzy of girl-power properties, Supergirl was a natural, a real super hero, and a much needed empowering character for tween girls. We kept her amazing lore but gave her a “voice”, attitude and a mission that was relevant and inspiring to girls of today. This was kicked off with a “Hey I’m SuperGirl” tween-girl lifestyle marketing campaign. The program was extremely well accepted by licensees, retailers and consumers, and this previously overlooked fringe character quickly became an annual revenue stream for WBCP.
I also worked on numerous Batman and Superman projects in support of TV programming for the brands and upcoming theatrical releases. The boys property space had become quite crowded, a space that Batman had dominated for many decades. I commissioned a global research project to gather data about the property’s relationship with contemporary boys. I love classic properties, yet I’ve learnt time and time again that finding unique ways to evolve and make the property relevant to the target demographic is essential to long-term success. The project findings re-emphasized the passion for Batman with boys and brought to light new approaches to merchandise that would help sustain and re-energize the brand.