It’s 11.11pm on an average Tuesday night and my alarm goes off. Falling out of bed and into my clothes, I make my way to the nearest cinema. It’s a freezing cold night and a good car park is hard to come by. As I approach the doors to Westfield Chermside, I’m ‘disarmed’ by a few cloaked kids lurking in the shadows. I enter with a swarm of people who are moving more like a pack of dementors than excited muggles.
Once inside, I feel like I’ve downed a pint of Butterbeer and I’m 12 years old again. I am hit with many sights at once: Grandmas and Grandpas clutching 3D Glasses, Mums and Dads with children far too young to be awake at this hour, tweens and teens dressed up in school robes and death-eater outfits, middle-aged balding men with their partners clutching coffee, 30-something-year-old ladies dressed up to the nines, and the list goes on.
Where else would I be, except the midnight screening of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, the final instalment of the Harry Potter movie franchise.
Now I get it: It’s a kids movie. A kid’s book. This shouldn’t be my scene. But the atmosphere is electric.
Clutching my $16.50 ticket (prepaid weeks in advance) and feeling severely underdressed in jeans, (there are brooms, cloaks and wands are as far as the eye can see – eyes covered in special edition Harry Potter 3D glasses of course!) – that’s when it hit me. I’d pay anything to be here tonight.
Tonight is 100% worth rescheduling my personal training session, paying far too much for a ticket in a popcorn filled seat, and having to survive a Wednesday at work the next day with less than 4 hours sleep.
It’s worth it all to watch grown men pointing twigs at each other casting spells. It’s worth the sounds of 300 screaming fans at 11.55pm as the cinema doors open. And as a rather cynical Gen Y-er, it’s worth being physically a part of a following that doesn’t require a username and password to share our interests.
Having grossed over $7 million at the Australian box office on opening day and $249.6 million worldwide (until July 15), it’s not rocket science to understand its mass appeal.
For me, it wasn’t just growing up with the beautiful, rich story told in the books. It was the whole brand experience:
- I’ve lined up for hours on end for the latest books over the years
- waited impatiently for the door on JK Rowling’s website to open (more than once)
- participated in discussion boards and followed rumours and fan-fiction on communities such as mugglenet.com and godrics-hollow.net
- secretly placed Harry Potter World just below Machu Picchu on my travel wish-list
- seen the movies within 48 hours of their release
- and was there for the final chapter with the same group of friends that I saw the first film with in 2001.
And just when I thought it was coming to an end, Pottermore, the interactive website that ‘builds an exciting experience around Harry Potter’ is set to be released on July 31. I’m just one of millions that are completely engaged with this brand, and if that isn’t good ROI, then I don’t know what is.
Another brand that has achieved a cult-like following is Apple. Ever experienced iEnvy? Who wouldn’t line up for hours (or days) on end to get a hold of Apple’s latest and greatest?
What sacrifices are you willing to make in return for a magical brand experience? I’ve shared mine… what’s yours?
Bec Fernando is a Traffic Assistant at BCM