Is the role of a name in marketing central to success? Here’s a classic example to consider
February 17 2020
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) was released on February 7th, 2020 to disappointing ticket sales. Movie openings don’t always live up to expectations, though in this case the flop effect is blamed not on the film itself, which did garner good reviews, but on marketing and SEO.
If you are looking for where the movie is playing now, the title to use is Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey, though you will get that result even if you put in the original title. Why change the title now though?
The Verge reported that Warner Bros. realized that putting the main character’s name in the first part of the title makes it more obvious as to what the film is about and easier to find it when searching for tickets. Of course, the title is not the only thing they got wrong in this highly anticipated film’s rollout.
“Like a domino effect, a few things went wrong at once: bad marketing, bad trailers, and bad title decisions,” is the way The Verge puts it. Not making Harley Quinn the main title was a clear blunder in light of the fact that she “is an extremely popular character with major name recognition, much like Wonder Woman, Batman, Superman, and Joker,” The Verge added.
The trailers were also problematic. The article refers to someone “with knowledge of the situation” who observed that the trailers didn’t really convey the story of the film effectively because they left out the elements that made it an R-rated film. Those aspects are the core of the movie.
Of course, it’s better to think through things like name recognition before the launch. But it’s good that the producers were willing to say that they erred and make the change that they did at this point. If the movie sales improve, that would validate the hypothesis that the role of a name in marketing is central to success. If not, then they may have to dig deeper to identify the problem.
Changing aspects of a marketing campaign after launch is something other businesses could do if they see that it’s not taking off as hoped. In the digital age, you no longer have the excuse that all the flyers and posters were already printed, so we just have to stick with what we have even when we know it’s not working.
This article originally appeared in the PostFunnel blog and has been published here with permission.