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Coca-Cola, Warner Bros. Share Harry Potter Magic

February 21, 2001|From Associated Press

Coca-Cola Co. will be Warner Bros.' promotional partner for the upcoming movie "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," but don't look for the child wizard to have a Coke and a smile.

The ad campaign announced Tuesday will include the placement of Harry Potter-related images on Coca-Cola, Minute Maid and Hi-C packaging, but it won't extend to product placement in the movie or images of Harry drinking Coke.

Coke paid $150 million for its role, which will include reading initiatives that connect Harry's magical realm to Coke and its products.

The film, scheduled for release Nov. 16, is based on the first of author J.K. Rowling's best-selling children's stories. It stars 11-year-old Daniel Radcliffe as the child wizard and Richard Harris as his mentor, Professor Dumbledore.

The partnership should prove to be a coup for Coke, said Richard Feinberg, a professor of consumer sciences and retailing at Purdue University.

"It's a brilliant co-branding partnership," he said. "Where most times companies have some risk with a partnership like this, it's hard to see the risk with Harry Potter. We know it's going to be successful."

Coca-Cola officials said they won't use any of the common gimmicks geared to children, such as sweepstakes and giveaways.

"The key to our plan will be about relationships, local communities, connecting with people one-on-one and looking at the things we traditionally do in a whole new way," said Tom Long, Coca-Cola division president for Britain and Ireland.

Jan Hall, senior vice president of consumer marketing for Coke North America, said the companies found a common ground during negotiations.

"When we got together with Warner Bros, there was a real affinity between what they were trying to achieve and what we were trying to achieve," she said.

Coke's agreement with Warner Bros. also covers the second film in the series, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," expected to be released in late 2002.

Shares of Coca-Cola were down 89 cents to $58.47 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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