Warner Bros. Movie World recently released a website dedicated to creating hype and buzz about Superman Escape, Warner Bros. Movie World's newest coaster. The site features chances for visitors to win tickets to the park to ride the new coaster, some videos explaining the ride and a chance for fans of the ride to connect and chat about Superman Escape.
What strikes me, and dozens of other members of Roller-Coaster.com.au, is the total lack of Superman branding on the site. It's as though the park is deliberately downplaying the fact that the entire premise of the ride relates to the Superman franchise.
I don't think anyone doubts that the ride will feature world-class theming, as we've come to expect from Warner Bros. Movie World, or that the ride experience will most likely rocket to number one in Australia, but I do think that it seems strange, even saddening to see the ride being advertised without any mention to the theming that will set this ride apart from every other similar ride in the world.
It seems fairly obvious where this marketing strategy is coming from, and who it is aimed at. Dreamworld for years have dominated the thrill ride market in Australia. Though not nearly as profitable market share as say families, it is nonetheless a large one, and one where there is typically plenty of teens willing to part with disposable income in exchange for a fun day - and it's not like they need convincing on this.
With the bizarre catchphrase "01002" at the centre of this campaign (I'll be honest - even now knowing what it means it still doesn't make much sense to me), it's clear that this campaign is an advance on Dreamworld's territory.
Movie World have a very broad attraction base, but it seems that going down the path of thrill rides is their plan for the immediate future. It's an all-out advance to take away market share from Dreamworld. The surprising thing is that this isn't the start. If anything, this is the final stage for such a strategy.
Just next door Wet'n'Wild announced a fantastic assortment of new slides just as word gets out that Dreamworld are looking to build a new water park. Warner Village Theme Parks' CEO John Menzies has also said that Polar Bear Shores was built against the successful Tiger Island at Dreamworld.
It's not surprising that there is a very competitive nature between these two. Though they very much work together when it comes to creating the theme park-based destination that is the Gold Coast, but that's not to say there isn't a fierce competition for market share between the two - the thinking behind the Three Park Super Pass of WVTP, or the $15 return visits at Dreamworld.
Make no mistake - I'm eager to ride what will no doubt be a great ride. I have no doubts that it will quickly become recognised as the best coaster in Australia (it's already the most viewed ride on this site). Just if I didn't know any better, I'd be after a generic thrill ride, and the idea of having to go through some arduous pre-ride experience would not be an idea that goes down well. Surely it's possible to introduce an effective marketing campaign that works for the teen market - without 01002.
Superman Escape opens December 26 this year.
By Richard Wilson.
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