Hong Kong Disneyland Dips Into Digital for Halloween

Hong Kong Disneyland has almost doubled its digital budget for this year’s Halloween campaign, investing in augmented reality, 3D morphing webisodes, and group-buying to lure youths to its theme park.

While this is not the first year the American company has dabbled in interactive engagements, Frederick Chan, marketing director at Hong Kong Disneyland, explained that the planning behind this year’s Halloween campaign shifted significantly from traditional media-driven communications to digital as the core.

For instance, Disneyland’s outdoor posters embed QR code readers that redirect to its website. Its TV and print advertising have rolled out to drive traffic back to its online property.

Because the Halloween campaign is focused on attracting youths to the park, Chan said a key challenge is weaving traditional storytelling into online and new technology to engage these digitally savvy young adults.

“We have spent more time to think creatively in terms of content creation, whether it is weaving in interactive elements into the in-park experience or creating innovative marketing ideas that allow our guests to be immersed in our Haunted Halloween story anytime, anywhere,” he said.

To reach out effectively to its target audience, Hong Kong Disneyland has embarked on a number of digital initiatives:

Using the Headless Horseman attraction as a hook to introduce the Halloween theme, Disneyland leveraged 3D morphing technology for a series of six webisodes that are unveiled over the first few weeks of September. It allows individuals to map their faces on characters inside the videos by uploading photos of themselves, which can be shared with friends through Facebook Connect and YouTube.

Hong Kong Disneyland marketing director Frederick Chan dressed up as one of the characters to demo the AR app.

The park also created a branded Spooky iPhone app to enable an augmented reality experience on mobile devices where zombies will virtually jump out of the screens through trackers located in the Main Street Haunted Hotel attraction and around the grounds. The AR app encourages visitors to be creative in their photoshoots that could be saved and shared with friends. The same app can also be used on ads in newspapers and magazines throughout the campaign period.

Tapping the rising popularity of group-buying, Hong Kong Disneyland partnered with Yahoo for an exclusive group-buy promotion through Yahoo Deals, targeting early bird customers for a preview night of its Halloween attractions at the park.

Chan said this is the first time Hong Kong Disneyland has participated in a group-buy promotion and the company has chosen Yahoo because of its mass reach to the local population. The group-buy promotion is also extended to Yahoo members in Taiwan, the theme park’s second biggest international market.

In addition to Yahoo Deals, Disneyland partnered with Yahoo for display advertising.

Although paid search for the theme park is ongoing, Chan said the company has strengthened and tailor made a separate set of keywords for Halloween starting August to September to drive a spike in visitor numbers.

The company has also invited top bloggers from travel and lifestyle categories to a blogger engagement program to unveil its Halloween attractions.

Chan is conservative when it comes to measuring campaign success. Despite all the digital initiatives, this year’s digital push is “a benchmarking exercise” aimed at creating awareness and engagement, he said. Success metrics will include the number of people who download the webisodes as well as tracking website traffic.

Currently, there are two team members responsible for Hong Kong Disneyland’s digital activities spanning from maintaining its Facebook and YouTube channels, paid search campaigns, mobile and app developments, interactive videos, and creating different versions of the website for various languages and countries, on top of commissioning agencies and vendors for its projects.

Listing out all the responsibilities, Chan said he would definitely consider a “dramatic increase” in headcount to hire more resources for the theme park’s future digital initiatives.

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