Yesterday I wrote about marketing programs and how some traditional marketing programs felt like a trip to the amusement park, while utilizing content marketing was like the Museum of Modern Art. I also acknowledged that I’m very much playing around with the notion of content marketing, seeing how it can stretch and twist to fit different modes of engagement.
Well, the amusement park idea kind of stuck in my head. How would an amusement park be different if it was based on a content marketing strategy? Well, I think I have an answer…
Not since the creation of the Star Wars universe has there been a franchise so rich in content as the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The books and movies, along with ancillary products, have created a rich universe that has become a classic. 20 years from now nine-year olds will be discovering the books as if they were just written. But the series has in fact ended, there will be no more books. So, how can the franchise stay relevant beyond the page or silver screen? By creating a new kind of amusement park.
Right now even Disney, the best theme park operator going, has a rather disjointed offering (by design). Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Adventureland… there is no real connection between them. There is no over-riding narrative that connects the park together. But a theme park based on the world of Harry Potter would be like living in the books/movies. In fact, it could bring the books to life in a way that the movies never could because of the conventions of modern movie making (2-3 hour films).
Imagine shopping in Diagon Alley before taking the Hogwarts Express from platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London. You travel through the countryside before arriving at Hogwarts, an amazing castle. From there you interact with characters, go on rides, see shows, all the things you expect from a great theme park. But at Hogwarts, everything works together in concert and your experience becomes deeper and richer with every interaction at the park.
Perhaps you could sign up for special park tours that recreate the action from a specific book (sorry, I haven’t read them all so that may not be possible). You meet the teachers and characters from that book, this way you could come back to the park seven times, one for each book, and have a different experience every time. There are several ways you could manage the experience, but to me the amazing thing is that you are harnessing the power of the content in a completely innovative way.
So, many of you are probably saying, “Yeah Rick, that’s a great idea, that’s why they are doing it at Universal Orlando.”
Yep, guilty as charged. I wrote this whole post, then just for laughs typed ‘Harry Potter Theme Park’ into Google. Oops. And if you watch this video, it sounds like they are planning on doing it the right way. Ultimately though, it’s still just a module inside a larger theme park, so you’ll miss some of the detail mentioned above in my concept (Hogwarts Express, Platform 9 3/4, Diagon Alley). But the plans they do have are indeed a departure from the conventions of traditional theme park fair. Perhaps this is a step towards the Content Marketing Theme Park of my dreams.