Expect hurricane of hype for Harry Potter

Friday, June 6, 2003

— Think you've seen a lot of hype about "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"? Just wait until the book comes out.

Billboards. Baseball parks. A countdown in Times Square. Scholastic Inc., the U.S. publisher of J.K. Rowling's mega-selling series, has planned a $3 million-$4 million marketing campaign, more than doubling its budget for the release of the last Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," in 2000.

"I can't think of anything that compares to the budget for the new Harry Potter book, expect for the budget for the last Potter story," says Laurie Brown, a vice president for sales at Harcourt Trade Publishers who in the past 20 years has also worked for Random House and Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Timed to the midnight June 21 release of "Order of the Phoenix," the show gets rolling on what could be called "Harry Potter Eve," June 20, with a countdown in Times Square. A billboard on Sunset Strip will announce the news in Los Angeles.

Scholastic will also take its campaign to baseball parks. The publisher has reached agreements with the Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and other teams for "Harry Potter" days, featuring costume contests and scoreboard promotions.