Harry Potter and Unexpected Internet Publicity

The internet is without a doubt the most unpredictable form of publicity out there.  It can make it difficult for companies to control their reputations for a variety of reasons:

  • Anyone can publish anything at any time
  • Anyone can instantly read what has been published
  • Anyone can promote online content (sometimes without even realizing they are doing so)
  • People often use the internet to discover things they cannot find elsewhere
  • The time and location barriers of other mediums (such as television or newspaper) do not exist online.
  • It is in our human nature to share and discuss things that interest or entertain us.  Email and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ make it easier than ever to quickly spread the word.

For example, take a look at Harry Potter:  The ever-so-popular novel that generation-Y grew up reading and fell in love with.  It is essential for Harry Potter to keep a clean reputation.  People of all ages read the books and watch the movies, and the young ones don’t get to unless mommy says it is okay.  However, in almost every case it is nearly impossible to remove unwanted content from the internet.  Many uninformed individuals and organizations have the complete opposite approach to this challenge than the one they should take.  They avoid the internet altogether!  Avoiding the internet will NOT keep undesirable content about ones self or organization from appearing online.  Instead, it may end up being the only content on the web.  Luckily, the social media team behind the Harry Potter series understands this phenomenon.  Even though they have publicity from the internet that they would obviously rather not have, they still do a great job of keeping their web presence under control.  They have generated enough hype that the majority of the public is more interested in reading reviews on the latest movie (and the last of the series), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part II, than they are about chuckling at the following shocking images of the movie’s cast members:

Is this Rupert Grint, aka Ron Weasley, hitting a bong?  According to Perez Hilton, there is some debate as to whether or not it is actually him, and if the substance in the bong actually is marijuana.


Ron Weasley enjoying a cold beer with friends.  Based on the look on his face, I would not be surprised if this photo was taken shortly after the bong photo.


Quite a creative headline!.. Hey… did anyone else wonder, what is smeared all over his face?  Is pot really the only drug involved?


Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, drunk at a bar on his 21st birthday.  He looks more excited about turning 21 than he ever was after defeating any of those villains.


Emma Watson, aka Hermione Granger, cramming a Corona.  I guess if you ever see her at a bar and want to buy her a drink, you know what to get her… you and every other guy at the bar.


Obviously, these images are not impossible to come across online, and you may have already seen some of them.  However, this is an extremely miniscule portion of Harry Potter related content on the web.  Most children’s parents have either not seen these photos, or they follow celebrity gossip enough to understand that the media loves to report when celebrities break the high standards set for them by society.  They have seen and read far more positive content than negative, so they conclude that Harry Potter is not a bad influence on their children (except for the few extremists who view the series itself as an influence of real-life witchcraft and wizardry).

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