It is not just media talking about convergence. Those multi-billionaire brands have coined the market in it, writes Harry Herber.
I love fairy tale endings. You know the stories of ordinary people who end up doing extraordinary things and inevitably make a fortune doing it. In my meanderings on the web, I found two such inspiring stories. Because they had media relevancy, and there is a bit of marketing nous evident, I can write about them in this esteemed magazine.
When we get up in the morning, we’d all love to say we do it for the fulfilment, the experience, the social interaction or the challenge. But I suspect there’s a simpler answer. We do it for the money! And so do Carlos Slim, Bernard Arnault, Amancio Ortega, Eike Batista and Stefan Persson.
Who are they? Five of the 10 richest guys in the world. Slim is the richest, according to Forbes Magazine, and is worth $69 billion. Interesting isn’t it, that you could walk past any of them in the street and really have no idea?
But why all this? Well, I want to talk about leveraging a brand, be it a media agency, or a client’s brand or product. I truly believe if we treated our companies more like brands than workplaces, we’d all be doing a lot better. The brands I want to talk about are really cash-rich – author JK Rowling and Lego.
Can you imagine, having an idea for a book, getting it published seven years later – after 12 publishing houses rejected it – and today being worth $1 billion? But the smart insight for me is that we live in the 21st century and our environment is one where brands exist on multiple platforms.
Their success often hinges on the marketer’s ability to leverage across platforms. Boy, have they got it right with the Harry Potter brand! Eight movies later and they’re all in the top 50 films of all time. The lowest grossing one earned almost $800 million. But books and movies are only two media platforms. The concept lives on websites and in chat-rooms. It’s alive and kicking in fan pages and online communities. Harry Potter lives in audio books, DVDs and video games. There are two Harry Potter theme parks run by Universal Studios.
Shouldn’t we all be looking at our brands just as holistically?
What about Lego? If you think about it, Lego has always been there. The beauty to me is how the basic concept has stayed constant for 50 years, but has adapted consistently to reflect the evolving world around it. The result is it ensures that all pretenders and me-too products have no space. In the eyes of the consumer, both the end user and the purchaser, the brand is worth the money. Hell, I want to be a brand like that. Don’t we all?
In Billund, Denmark, in 2007, Lego execs meet with Warner execs who pitch the idea for a Lego movie. Does Lego really need the idea? After all, Lego sales were increasing by 25% a year. Wouldn’t it be easier to take the ‘no risk’ attitude, and not let your brand be associated with any failure? After all, movies are a risky business. Well, they made the movie. In effect, after all, who would not be tempted by a 90-minute ad for your product being flighted to millions, and still being paid for it?
So far it has earned $465 million at the box office. And where does Lego come to life? On just as many platforms as Harry Potter, with the addition of television, where the Lego shows are sure-fire winners. Lastly, you want to know the ultimate leveraging employed by both these brands? There is a really popular video game out there – Lego Harry Potter. In various guises, it can be yours for $17. Of course, there is the classic Lego toy range featuring Harry Potter too.
I find this fascinating. Convergence is not only happening in media. It doesn’t only apply to our telephones, computers and television sets, but also to brands and products. They live on the shelves of retailers, in print, on TV and in movies, in the real and the virtual world – not colliding but merging.
Maybe, just maybe, The Matrix and Inception really do reflect tomorrow’s reality.
Harry Herber is the former group managing director of The MediaShop.
Herber’s monthly column, The Media Specialist, was first published in the October 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
IMAGE: JK Rowling reads from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone / Wikimedia Creative Commons / Daniel Ogren