Following in the footsteps of director Peter Jackson is no easy task – Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was widely praised and generated nearly $3 billion at the box office in total, and his trilogy based on The Hobbit performed nearly as well. If there’s one company that can rise to the challenge, it’s cash-flush Amazon. In advance of the first season on Amazon Prime Video, which reportedly cost almost half a billion dollars alone, Amazon grabbed the spotlight during the Super Bowl to unveil the first teaser trailer for Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Tolkien geeks will be quick to point out that Amazon’s series shouldn’t be called Lord of the Rings because it takes place in the Second Age of Middle-earth, long before the events that occurred during the Third Age in Lord of the Rings. Even Frodo Baggins actor Elijah Wood remarked upon the title last year and how the Second Age is actually portrayed in Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Chronology aside, from Amazon’s perspective, marketing the show with the Lord of the Rings brand is likely to generate more widespread appeal.
The 60-second spot during the Super Bowl debuted in 18 languages. Amazon said it wanted to leverage the big “pop culture moment” that the football game has become, especially in the world of advertising where leading corporations come together to reveal new, creative ads that even casual TV viewers get into. It also marks “just one chapter of what’s going to be a very deep and immersive marketing campaign,” and likely to be the largest marketing push that Amazon Prime Video has ever pursued.
Amazon also gave a first look to Vanity Fair, which noted that Tolkien is a personal obsession for CEO Jeff Bezos – while there’s a ton of money invested in the series, which airs on September 2nd, it’s more about Prime Video’s reputation than the financial risk. There’s no telling how The Rings of Power will be received later this year, but between the Super Bowl trailer and early press, marketing has certainly gotten off to a great start.
According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, Amazon’s choice to advertise during the Super Bowl was a smart one – not just because it’s about taking advantage of a captive and engaged Super Bowl audience, but Super Bowl followers over-index as fans of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit compared to both the US general population and Amazon Prime Video subscribers (who themselves also over-index compared to gen pop).