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Warner Bros. Mega SEO Mistake

New Birds of Prey movie title has been changed on ticket sites to help boost sales

Though the official title of the new Harley Quinn movie, “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn)”, remains the same, Warner Bros. have realised it’s a bit of a mouthful.

And SEO isn’t a big fan of mouthfuls.

So the American entertainment conglomerate changed the title on ticket sites to “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” in the hopes that it would boost sales after the initial flop of the opening weekend.

An absurdly unsearchable title

We love Harley Quinn. An unapologetic antihero with a twisted yet somehow likeable sense of right and wrong, she owns the screen. And the fact that she’s played by talented Australian actress Margot Robbie? Well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

But when we first typed the villainous good gal’s name into Google, we got nothing. Until Warner Bros. clued in and realised they’d created a marketing campaign that wasn’t SEO friendly.

With such an absurdly long and laborious title that doesn’t feature Harley Quinn’s name until right at the end, it’s no wonder the film didn’t meet its forecasted revenue performance.

A mistake that cost millions

The film was expected to generate $50-55 million in box office sales on opening weekend. Unfortunately, total revenue fell far short of the projected target.

Instead, the film grossed only $33 million domestically. With a production cost of $80 million, Warner Bros. has a long way to go to get back in the black and ultimately, make a profit from the film.

In an attempt to increase ticket sales, Warner Bros. has turned to SEO, changing the title of the film in the digital space to make it more search-friendly.

When you plug ‘Harley Quinn’ into Google now, ‘Harley Quinn birds of prey is the primary suggested phrase that pops up in the search bar.

Who knew SEO could be so cooperative and advantageous? Apparently not Warner Bros.

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…

With a comprehensive, SEO-friendly marketing strategy, Warner Bros. might have seen better box office sales over the opening weekend of Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.

Alas, now they’ll never know.

What the Hollywood studio has learned (hopefully!) is that next time they release a movie, it needs a searchable title that both the search engines and moviegoers alike can easily find.

To change a film title after its release is almost unheard of. For Warner Bros. to do this proves two things:

  1. They didn’t think about their audience when marketing the film (big mistake).
  2. If you want to reach your audience and create more sales, SEO is crucial – no matter how powerful your business is.

Warner Bros. is brimming with clever cookies and smart-minded people, so we hope they learn from this novice mistake.

And as the old adage goes: fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…should’ve used SEO.

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