For the handful out there who are unfamiliar with this phrase, uttered famously in the Harry Potter books and films, this spell is used to disarm another wizard, typically by causing the victim's wand to fly out of reach. We could not help but think of this as we reflected on the prediction made by a modern-day "wizard" a number of years ago, right after the 6th Harry Potter book was released.

An independent global branding consultant proclaimed, "Harry Potter is headline news today because of the media blitz surrounding the new book. Six weeks later, you won't hear anything."

The consultant based his insights on a Millward Brown survey of 20,000 children, 7 to 12 years of age, who were asked whether they thought Harry Potter was "a fading phenomenon." Sixty-nine percent said they did. The consultant thought that the percentage was closer to 80%, a statement that raised questions for us, then and now:

  1. Did 7-year olds even know what a "phenomenon" was?
  2. Did the research consider category drivers and the rhythms involved in a category? People rarely think about the category or brand until the time is right – like just when a new movie is due to be released.
  3. Did the researchers consider recommending a behavioral question, like "even if you think Harry Potter is a fading phenomenon, are you going to go see the movie?"

History is a wonderful thing because it allows you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. That's why loyalty metrics are so useful – they predict what's going to happen, although to be fair, you didn't have to have taken classes in tea-reading at Hogwarts to have guessed that the newest Harry Potter release was going to be a hit.

It was no surprise to us to hear that Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2" smashed domestic box office records for a midnight opening taking in $43.5 million, a record that came on the heels of the film setting the record for advance ticket sales in the US and a staggering $476 million weekend box office worldwide. As to statements akin to "six weeks later you won't hear anything," this is likely only to be true because people are still standing on lines waiting to get into see the movie!

As to the future for brands, we suggest a spell known for removing dark marks—Deletrius. Or real engagement and loyalty metrics, if you prefer your magic a little more predictive.