Wieden Feels the Burn for EA’s Potter

LOS ANGELES “If only school were more like Hogwarts.”

That’s the theme of a breaking print campaign by independent Wieden + Kennedy, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, for Electronic Arts’ Harry Potter series of videogames.

“This particular Harry Potter title offers an unprecedented level of interaction with Harry’s world,” said Giles Montgomery, copywriter, who worked under creative directors Eric Quennoy and Paul Stechschulte. “We tried to bring this to life for 8- to 13-year-old Potter fans by juxtaposing the banality of everyday school against the excitement of life at Hogwarts,” the magical academy depicted in the best-selling series of books and hit movies.

Two print executions show singed middle-school class schedules, complete with penciled-in attempts at juvenile gallows humor. Images of Hogwarts peek through from below. A 30-second TV spot breaks in two weeks.

Montgomery said the game release, to coincide with the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, would also be supported by a broadcast spot breaking in two weeks that “shows a breadth of game play taking place in key Order of the Phoenix locations all over Hogwarts.”

To some extent, it doesn’t matter if potential players are still in school, Montgomery said. “School is a constant element in every kid’s psyche. When you’re on vacation, it’s lurking in the back of your mind,” he said. “Even as an adult, you know what school represents and it’s basically the polar opposite of Hogwarts.”

The tone of the campaign recognizes the changing demographic of the target audience that has grown up with Harry Potter media and EA titles exploiting each movie release. “The kids we’re communicating with enjoy watching clips of their peers doing dumb, crazy stuff on YouTube,” Montgomery said. “We’re tapping into that world. The humor is dark, the payoff is subtle. We’re asking Harry Potter fans to laugh at themselves, and that takes maturity.”

Interactive creative is yet undetermined.

Redwood City, Calif.-based Electronic Arts spent more that $3 million advertising its game for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005, according the Nielsen Monitor-Plus.