Long before George R. R. Martin and J. K. Rowling captured people’s imagination, it was J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who ruled the roost when it came to fantasy fiction. While Lewis’s Narnia is fascinating, it is Tolkien’s Middle-Earth—a spellbinding world with its lore and intricate mythology (immortalized in The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion)—that scores over the former.
Tolkien has had a loyal fan base, and it has only grown over decades, spanning generations. Further, Peter Jackson has immortalized the LOTR trilogy onscreen and it is he again who took the reins of The Hobbit trilogy.
One would assume that the LOTR franchise (both books and films) with its established fan following and top billed cast would require little marketing but the producers left no stone unturned to promote this film on a variety of platforms (a wise move considering the book was to be split into three film adaptations).
The producers emphasized upon the importance of slow reveals putting out first looks, teaser posters, and teaser trailers, before the actual trailers were launched. This method of content marketing got audiences curious and became major talking points, online and offline, thus notching up marketing with little investment.
Many films have a site dedicated to them and The Hobbit is no different. An interactive website having downloadable wallpapers and games, it is rather notable for its Journey Through Middle-Earth feature—an immersive experience mapping battlegrounds and heroes’ journeys. This feature is a masterstroke when it comes to content marketing, and is akin to Pottermore in its impact.
The producers also took recourse to traditional modes of marketing by virtue of press junkets, print advertisements such as huge billboards and newspaper-magazine ads, appearances of stars on talk shows and reality TV shows, and corporate tie-ins (with Lego, for example). All these modes, fueled by PR overdrive, led the way for smartly packaged content which heightened the interest of people, both LOTR buffs and potential fans alike.
Content marketing in case of The Hobbit makes for a fascinating case study indeed, capitalizing on digital as well as traditional modes of marketing. The producers, by virtue of smart content marketing, flooded the market from every corner—heightening suspense, building momentum and thus making it impossible to miss.