Case Study: Harry Potter

  • Applications
  • Data visualisation
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Workflow automation

The Challenge

In 2011 the final Harry Potter film, the Deathly Hallows Part 2, was released. In the lead up to the premier, Warner Brothers were looking for marketing opportunities to promote the upcoming movie. Working for Microsoft, in conjunction with marketing agency PHD, Shoothill were challenged to suggest and spearhead an innovative marketing initiative, incorporating technology leveraged through the web.

We posed a strategy using Deepzoom technology from Microsoft to create a digital mosaic movie poster from curated fan images. The idea immediately won over our clients. Working to a tight timeframe, given the imminent release date, Shoothill took over the project and began production of the campaign.


“This campaign required a great deal of innovation and expediency in execution. Shoothill were the only company I knew that could rise to such a challenge…”

Jon Pritchard

Digital Marketing Strategist at Microsoft

Our Solution

Creative Solution

At Shoothill we had previous experience in using Deepzoom to generate media. In the past, however, we had discovered that the technology was not ideal for large scale images of several thousand components. Fortunately, we had experimented with the software and developed our own bespoke modifications, trademarked Megafiche. This original Shoothill creation allowed Deepzoom to generate enormous images. Thus we were able to aim for a mosaic comprised of 500,000 individual cells, each of which could harbour its own fan contribution.

Interactive Marketing

The plan was to create this gargantuan Deepzoom mosaic through a web portal, openly accessible to the Harry Potter fan base. Then in the run up to the premier, a multichannel campaign would use this to  promote the movie in an interactive format. Our strategy called for a three-pronged approach, and all told the project proved a complex and involved process.

Web Portal

The first step was creating the digital mosaic as an online portal, hosted by us, accessible through MSN and the Harry Potter Facebook page. This site would be open to submissions from the public and was advertised in a number of online channels. Each of the 500,00 cells had the option for a user to click to upload their own image.

Vetting the Images

Due to the open nature of these submissions, a vital feature of the software was the ability to filter out any unacceptable contributions. Images containing antisocial behaviour, branding and trademarks, or unlicensed intellectual property such as the Harry Potter books could not be contributed.

Smart Tools

To solve this problem, we included within the portal an automatic system to assist the vetting process. Each image could be swiftly screened for prohibited content. Should the image prove acceptable, it would be immediately added to the Deepzoom mosaic, and viewable by users. However, in the case that the image failed any of the criteria, it would be blocked. In cases where we were uncertain how to classify a submission, it could be moved to a holding pen and run past our associates at PHD.

Audience Engagement

No matter the decision, an email would be automatically sent to the contributor’s registered address. If the image was accepted, this email would inform them as such and provide a link taking them to their spot within the mosaic. In the other cases, the fan would be warned that the image had failed to meet requirements, and instead be provided a link to upload an alternative submission.

Poster Printing

Of the potential 500,000 entries, the first 5000 to be added to the web based Megafiche Deepzoom would be used to create a separate movie poster mosaic. The second prong of the campaign was to print this 5000-component strong image to A3 posters and distribute them for free to the fans whose images were included. The software automatically scanned every image and placed them in suitable positions to achieve the best end visual result.

In-House Distribution

As well as developing all the software used within this project, it fell to us at Shoothill to oversee the printing of these posters, and ensure every fan received theirs. All 5000 posters were to be printed and mailed to the respective user’s registered address.

Data Security

Throughout this project, we were handling a great deal of personal data, and so attention had to be paid to the management of this data. Our team’s focus was on the security of the system, stress testing to ensure these sensitive details were safeguarded against intrusion, and following completion, this data as to be destroyed. We have plenty of experience properly manipulating large and complex sets of data and so we knew we would be well equipped to handle this information delicately.

In the Public Eye

The final prong of the campaign was using this 5000-image mosaic on Big 6 Movie posters, to be displayed in the public eye. The result was printed and pasted to the one hundred nearest posters sites to the Leicester Square Odeon ahead of the premier, raising awareness of the upcoming movie.

Innovative Strategy

We were confident that this innovative and interactive content would reach a broad and relevant audience through these various channels, and that the target audience would be engaged by it’s unique and compelling nature.


Project Completion

This campaign was an unqualified success, receiving a great deal of attention from a vast swathe of the general public. The Deepzoom site received as many as 50,000 uploads whilst live, and the first 5000 were successfully printed and distributed to the corresponding fans.

Well Received

The campaign saw an influx of positive comments, particularly regarding the fans mailed posters. Recipients were ecstatic, and this aspect of the campaign was lauded for being a truly rewarding experience. The campaign’s audience were very happy with their posters, many taking to social media to proudly post photos of themselves with the mosaic. In the lead up to the premier, parties of people would often be gathered around the Big 6 Movie posters in the streets, checking to find themselves and friends.

Overcoming Challenges

All told the campaign itself lasted approximately four weeks. Throughout the project, we shouldered the bulk of the responsibility, taking on a dense and intensive workload. We are proud to have completed such a compelling and interactive promotional campaign to such strict time constraints. The software solution we developed included effective safeguards to ensure correct compliance, whilst providing a satisfying user experience to a large audience.

Creative Opportunities

Our team are always excited to explore creative uses of software. Opportunities to create stunning visual media through our unique blend of skills, out of the box ideas, and original innovations bring out some of our best work. Working with Deepzoom and Megafiche technology helped to further develop our understanding of these mediums. Marketing campaigns are all about audience engagement, and each one that we tackle teaches us more about how to best reach and capture the imagination of our target market. This particular campaign is certainly a glowing example.

Exceeding Expectations

Especially considering the reception of this project, we are very proud to have been involved. PHD, the agency we were working with, were nominated for an award as a result of the campaign, and they continued to exhibit the content for a long time to come. Our team were dealing with large and sensitive data sets, but we maintained security at every stage. It was our pleasure to have been involved in this creative endeavour, exceeding our customers expectations at every stage with our unique skills and tools relating to the technology used.

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