Warner Bros. Pictures is pulling out all the stops for an extensive promotional bonanza surrounding the studio’s new fantasy flick Wonka, hitting theatres December 15. Aiming to draw audiences into the musical backstory of quirky chocolatier Willy Wonka, the studio has deployed a multi-layered marketing campaign spanning digital experiences, product tie-ins, real-world events, and collaborative cross-promos.
These strategic initiatives tap into Wonka’s signature whimsy, transporting fans into his candy-coated world, having started weeks before the premiere. From an Xbox dipped in chocolate to a metaverse store, Warner Bros. has aimed to provide interactive sneak peeks matching the story’s immersive qualities.
Let’s check out some of the studio’s specific strategies for stoking anticipation ahead of release day.
Immersive Store in the Metaverse
One of Warner Bros.’ most imaginative campaigns involved teaming up with high-end retailer Bloomingdale’s on a Wonka-inspired virtual world. As part of Bloomingdale’s holiday push, this browser-based virtual store transports fans into a dazzling digital version of Willy’s jaw-dropping chocolate factory.
Broken up into sections like the Beauty Bar and Gift Box Outpost, the main attraction is the Wonka Room, which truly mirrors the spectacle we’ll see on screen. Fans can explore this online candy wonderland packed with puzzles, pyjamas and cosmetics sporting icons from the upcoming flick.
Visitors can even embark on a digital scavenger hunt, trying to locate hidden golden tickets that unlock some exclusive movie clips. This savvy co-promo provides an early glimpse into the sensory overload awaiting moviegoers when those theatre curtains rise.
Fan-Made Visions Come to Life with Lightricks
Tapping into user-created content, Warner Bros. collaborated with award-winning app developer Lightricks on an innovative fan activation campaign. Through Lightricks’ popular video editing tool Videoleap, fans can turn clips of their own environs into visions of iconic settings and characters from Wonka’s scrumptious world.
The studio encourages creativity by letting audiences join the storytelling fun themselves. Fans can put their personal spin on candy room scenes using Videoleap’s filters, text overlays, special effects, and so on. Other Lightricks apps, including Facetune and Photoleap, offer additional scene transformation options.
By sharing these movie-inspired creations across social media, fans can spread organic excitement while flaunting their artistry. For Warner Bros., the initiative scores a wealth of fan-fueled content that previews the film’s themed atmosphere. In many ways, this reflects the entertainment industry’s increasing shift toward participatory fan engagement in promotion.
Iconic Characters Transformed into Collectibles
Capitalizing on the beloved popularity of Funko vinyl figures, Warner Bros. partnered up with the company to morph Wonka’s most iconic characters into stylized Pop art collectibles.
This licensing team-up has brought renditions of figures like Willy Wonka and Slugworth to the eager hands of fans. The signature oversized heads and beady eyes of Funko Pops lend themselves well to highlighting key costumes and personality traits. Signature accessories like Willy’s candy-filled walking stick and top hat make the figures instantly recognizable.
Releasing these custom Wonka figures ahead of the big-screen debut lets fans bring a piece of the magical world home with them.
A Console Fit for a Chocolatier
In a golden ticket-caliber surprise, Microsoft teamed up with Warner Bros. to whip up a limited-edition Xbox Series X console glistening in Wonka’s signature shades.
Coated in shimmering purple and emblazoned with Wonka’s emblem, the custom console looks freshly dipped in chocolate from Willy’s inventing room waterfall. This Xbox creation starred as the grand prize in an international social media sweepstakes fueling hype ahead of the premiere.
Fans entered to win by sharing Warner Bros.’ promo posts and graphics. The lucky victor scoring the VIP console also snagged bonus prizes like a themed carrying case and a bundle of exclusive Wonka chocolate bars crafted for the promotion. Rather than a full retail release, producing just one grand prize Xbox amplified the contest’s intrigue. And the partnership tapped into Wonka’s spirit of discovery and imagination with a gaming angle.
The Star’s Comedic Charm on Display
With the SAG-AFTRA strike concluded stars are finally promoting their movies again, and star Timothée Chalamet leveraged a recent Saturday Night Live hosting gig to help generate buzz for Wonka.
Showcasing his comedic talents, Chalamet opted to rewrite the lyrics to “Pure Imagination” from the original 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory film to shamelessly plug the upcoming prequel in a tongue-in-cheek manner.
Poking fun throughout the song at restrictions preventing direct promotion, Chalamet succeeded in creating significant buzz around the release. The musical monologue provided audiences a preview of Chalamet’s singing skills, which will be on full display as the lead in this fantastical reboot.
Confectionary Buzz Across Channels
From digital experiences transporting fans into Wonka’s chocolate factory wonderland to creative product collabs, these multifaceted initiatives have delivered highly immersive buzz ahead of opening night. While the ultimate box office reception remains uncertain, seeing how these tactical hype strategies translate into metrics will prove interesting.