So you've won the license, now what? This week in Toy Stories we look at product that anchored a successful brand launch. Toy Stories Chapter 10: Harry Potter Games!
Presentation theatrics aside, the primary reason Mattel won the Harry Potter business was that our product was awesome, and that especially applied to what Jim Keifer and his Games Design Team delivered. Long before we even knew who we were pitching to, we started creating concepts, because we knew someday someone was going to make a movie out of these great books. In fact, the Pitch line was so cool AND so do-able, that most of it ended up in either the pre-movie or the Movie #1 lines, and thus we ended up being ahead of the game from a development schedule standpoint. Not only could we launch in market seemingly basic (but challenging!) games like HP Trivia, Mystery At Hogwarts and the Quidditch Card Game mere months after the pitch, but also it allowed us to spend more time refining other more complex concepts into even better product. I believe it was Jim Elliot that showed us an air-powered platform that levitated a foam ball through an obstacle course. It featured Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer's Apprentice from Fantasia, which we replaced with Harry, who turned to follow the path of the ball, and whose wand hand raised and lowered depending on the strength of the airflow controlling the ball height. It was perfect.
The Harry Potter Levitating Challenge blew WB away, and Hasbro was so upset that we won the games business, they insisted that WB make us pitch again, with no fancy sets or special effects, because they thought that there was NO WAY Mattel could beat them on games. Although extremely confident in our concepts, we were nevertheless concerned, because our strategy for the property over all was to focus on products that delivered the Hogwarts experience, rather than simply deliver on character replicas. We went back in with a simple tabletop presentation, and confirmed our win of the business based solely on our amazing product. Levitating Challenge was one of our most successful products in the line, worldwide, because it really gave kids the magical experience of learning magic at Hogwarts. Years later, the game was repurposed as Mindflex. The gift that keeps on giving!