A look back at all the Harry Potter 20th anniversary activity in 2018

30th January 2019

In 2018 Pottermore Publishing celebrated the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in several key markets across the world.

It was a year of 20th anniversary celebrations for partner publishers of the Harry Potter series in the USA, Italy, Germany, France, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Finland and the Netherlands.

This huge milestone was celebrated in a host of exciting and imaginative ways across different markets, which included our retail partners supporting the anniversary with a range of activities.

To mark the occasion, we added special 20th anniversary roundels to the covers of the Harry Potter eBooks and audiobooks, and updated these across storefronts.

Here’s a round-up of some of the action on and offline…

Great digital campaigns

From the beginning of September, Audible US kicked off an influencer campaign which involved working with seven superstar YouTubers. The influencers chose one of the Harry Potter series’ audiobooks to make a video about.

Each influencer created a unique video based on their book, ranging from Lisa Schwartz, who dressed up her family (including her pup) as well-known characters from the first book, to Lana, who challenged her fiancé Luzu to a game of Harry Potter Would You Rather based on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. All videos were posted on a dedicated anniversary landing page on their site.

To finish off the celebration, all seven influencers came together in Los Angeles for a special book club, describing their experiences listening to the stories and the impact they have had on their lives.

Not prepared to leave it all to the fans outside the company, Audible editor and lifelong fan Katie O’Connor and Harry Potter newbie Courtney Reimer hosted a podcast to discuss the appeal of the series to veterans and newcomers alike.

Over in France, Audible ran a 20th anniversary competition for fans to win a trip to the English capital and a visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. Fans were asked to post a video reading their favourite passage from the first Harry Potter book for a chance to win. They also ran an Alexa listening event where users could stream the first three chapters of Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers during the anniversary period from the 9th – 19th October by saying, ‘Alexa, read about the Wizarding World.’

Storytel Netherlands also joined in the celebrations and ran a seven-week ‘guess the book’ competition on Facebook. They used audio quotes from all seven books, letting fans comment to guess which book the given clip came from. They had to get all seven books correct to win Storytel and Pottermore Publishing goodies.

Back in the US, all lending restrictions were lifted for library users to read or listen to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for two weeks over late August/ early September, via Overdrive and Bibliotheca.  Overdrive podcast Professional BookNerds also hosted a special 20th anniversary podcast where they delved into the stories.

Must-attend events

It wasn’t just online that saw all the 20th anniversary action. Live events were put on in key markets and proved very successful.

Audible Italy ran a 24-hour ‘readathon’ of Harry Potter e la pietra filosofale at the Turin Book Fair during May. 350 visitors participated and much-loved narrator of the Italian audiobooks, Francesco Pannofino, ended the readathon with a live reading of his own onstage for the 700 gathered fans.

Audible Germany and Harry Potter print book publisher Carlsen organised three special 20th anniversary events in Hamburg, Berlin and Munich respectively, over the weekend starting on Friday 31st August. Rufus Beck, the German narrator of the audiobooks, gave a live reading of his own at each of the celebrations.

Audible US put on its Harry Potter Pensieve experience at New York Comic Con and also supported the British Library exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, during its run at the New-York Historical Society. You can read about both of these in more detail here.

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Phew! 2018 was an incredibly busy year for 20th anniversary celebrations and 2019 looks set to continue that trend with 20th anniversaries coming around in Iceland, Japan, Korea, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Slovenia, Israel and Portugal. We look forward to working with our partners in those territories to make the celebrations go off with a Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-bang!

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