Media: Strategy Analysis - Narnia turns curiosity into DVD sales

Brand: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Client: Lucy Manning, Disney group brand manager
Brief: Launch the Chronicles of Narnia DVD in the UK
Target audience: Housewives and children
Budget: £2 million

Media: Carat
Creative: Creative Partnership
Others: Hyperspace


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe faced an uphill struggle to become king of the DVDs. It was up against King Kong, which had a 20 per cent bigger budget. Also, research suggested that Narnia needed a revamp of its Edwardian image to highlight the all-action epic nature of the 2005 film.

The brief was to find a way to communicate with the key DVD-buying group known as the "entertaining family". This group was defined by parents' constant need to find ways to keep their children happy, and a dislike of intrusive ads.

It was quickly realised that adopting conventional DVD launch techniques - broadcasting "trailers" on TV - simply wouldn't work.

The idea was to use Narnia's central theme of curiosity to drive all communications. Ads would echo the curiosity of the story's protagonists to lure potential DVD buyers. Every medium would have to make parents as inquisitive as Lucy, who first opened the wardrobe in the story. Each would have to encourage parents to seek information. Success would require media formats that encouraged interaction and rewarded interest. All elements would have to be innovative - if consumers had seen the format already, they wouldn't be intrigued.


- TV: The media intrigue started with TV. Instead of trailer ads, Carat used three different dynamic short executions in every break. Each spot focused on a single character to spark curiosity - these included a ten-second "lion" spot, a ten-second "witch" spot and a 20-second "wardrobe" spot.

- Online: Unbranded skyscraper ads and banners featured iconic images from Narnia, such as the lamppost in the snow. These were designed to create minimal intrusion, intriguing the target group and inviting them to run their mouse over the creative. At that point it expanded into a larger ad with more information.

- Radio: A radio promotion continued the theme with contestants on Heart FM having to guess an object that the White Witch was describing. Every wrong guess reduced the prize money.

- Outdoor: The final element of intrigue was outdoor. Some 20 six-sheet specials showed snowflakes falling across a section of the poster while standard six-sheets used special printing technology to make the white snow really glow at night, inviting extra attention.

And once enticed, consumer could obtain more information by texting the word "wardrobe" to a special number to receive exclusive film footage.


The outdoor activity hit the number-one spot in Posterwatch for recall, with 61 per cent specifically remembering the snow specials.

The online campaign reached 2.3 million unique users, 12,000 of whom sent texts - a fourfold increase on previous movie mobile activity. The Narnia DVD sold 1.63 million units in its first week - outperforming King Kong, which managed 1.17 million. Sales exceeded targets by 16 per cent.

THE VERDICT - Andy Griffin partner, Naked Inside

Narnia is CS Lewis' magical "other world", Campaign readers will recall fondly.

You may even have dreamed of venturing there through your own wardrobe, once upon a time.

It will be of little surprise, then, that so many of our generation turned up at cinemas across the land last Christmas, for Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many, no doubt, used the children as an excuse to escape the winter gloom, courtesy of some good old-fashioned storytelling.

The box office drew 45 million admissions over an extended release period, ranking Narnia among such blockbusters as the Harry Potter films and the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Narnia's theatrical release also served as a marketing campaign for the DVD (the major profit earner for films these days), which came three months later. There lies the nub of the Narnia DVD campaign for me.

Expectation was surpassed, with impressive sales of 1.63 million units in week one, outselling its contemporary King Kong. But how many of those DVD sales were due to the Buena Vista DVD advertising? And how many, in turn, were due to Carat's "intrigue" media strategy - or even to the awareness built up by cinema chains.

The curiosity that propelled Edmund, Lucy, Simon and Susan into the wardrobe comes to mind. Placing unbranded skyscrapers ads featuring iconic images from the film online, and a radio promotion, inviting listeners to identify objects described by the White Witch, both brought the intrigue to life.

However, the power of intrigue could have been exploited by more of the campaign. Other media - such as multiple short time- length spots in TV breaks and digital six- sheets featuring images of falling snow - may have attracted attention but they were not as single-mindedly "driven by the central theme of curiosity".

And other intrigue opportunities were missed. Might the mechanic of opening doors, for example, have been used to dramatise the powerful through-the-wardrobe effect; both in traditional media, interactive TV landing pages, and press gatefold.