No fictional character has been marketing so quickly and so well as Harry Potter.
From the start, Ms. Rowling made sure that she kept a firm grip on her brainchild. In order to make the books appeal to boys (and not be perceived as chick lit), she chose the “masculine” version JK Rowling.
Her main goal is to please her fans. She copied the marketing strategy made popular by politicians and movies stars: give exclusive interviews to carefully selected magazines and newspapers and focus on appearances for fans and readers in benign, controllable settings. She knows that the best sales people are zealous fans.
She is very protective of the Harry Potter brand and makes sure that nothing will delude it. She banned publication of ebooks, which considering the lacking performance of children books in electronic form, is a wise decision.
When she launched "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", Rowling avoided press interviews and opted for a contests and competitions. Her UK publisher sponsored the largest contest; her American publisher ran its own version, dubbed "Why I Love Reading Harry Potter."
Newspapers in Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were used as vehicles to run competitions.
At midnight on the 16th of July 2005, the biggest book launch (of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”) in the history of the written word took place. The concept behind it was, that readers all over the world would buy (and read) the book at the same time, thus cleverly preventing story leaks and bootleg copies. Rowling cleverly whetted the appetite of her readers by hinting at “a death” and promising that “a lot would be made clear”.
Despite all logistic precautions, there was an accidental leak of the latest Potter book in a suburban Vancouver store. The local distributor immediately obtained a Supreme Court injunction, preventing anyone who received a copy from disclosing or copying information about the book. Since this news snippet was all over the media, Harry Potter got a lot of free and effective international PR out of it.
The seventh and last tome in the Harry Potter series will be the grand finale of Rowling’s magical streak. It will be interesting to see how she will maintain and sustain the Harry Potter brand and how she will continue to market the books after the series is finished.