Villing & Company

Star Wars Marketing: Genius or Over the Top?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Force awakened this past weekend. I know that “living under a rock” phrase is a bit cliché, but it goes to show how stellar the marketing for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” has been. Over the last few weeks, it has been hard to avoid the Star Wars hysteria.

It certainly helps that Disney, which bought LucasFilm along with the lucrative space opera franchise back in 2012, is a media giant. With so many channels at its disposal, Disney had quite a few options to use in the movie’s promotion. That’s the good part.

However, there have certainly been some head-scratching brand integrations as the build-up to Star Wars grew and grew. So what, if anything, can those of us who aren’t marketing for a Hollywood blockbuster learn from all of this?

What Went Well…REALLY Well

I think what the Star Wars team did amazingly well is give us just enough to whet our appetites for the film without giving away too much. The trailers helped us get to know some of the key characters without giving away major plot points.

One can understand the struggle Finn must be going through as a Stormtrooper rethinking his career choice. Or maybe you feel for Rey, a desert scavenger who feels disconnected from her past. And like most everyone, you might think BB-8 is the cutest thing ever. But up until last Thursday, nobody could really tell you exactly how all those characters would come together.

Again, when you own as many media outlets as Disney, it makes promotion a little easier. However, I have to say, Disney really knocked it out of the park with their cross-promotion. One instance that stands out in particular was when ESPN used halftime of Monday Night Football to release one of the movie’s official trailers. But Disney’s strategy certainly did not stop there. This flow chart from Wired shows how Disney is using all of its means to market the film.

They also knew when to step outside of the Disney media conglomerate to attract new viewers. With a franchise as huge as Star Wars, sometimes it seems as if everyone should be born with an understanding of its massive cultural impact. But, believe it or not, there are those born in the last 30 or so years who have never seen the Star Wars movies.

To attempt to tap into those new viewers, Disney made a deal with Maker Studios (a YouTube channel operator) to promote “The Force Awakens” in the digital realm.

In the end, what can I really say about Disney’s marketing of the new Star Wars movie other than that it was amazing? By all available metrics, the anticipation for this movie reached record levels. That is a testament to how well the marketing team performed.             

It Can’t All Be Good, Right?

While it may not be appropriate for me, a 23-year old first-year marketing professional, to offer opinions about the marketing tactics for Star Wars…I will offer these thoughts.

You see, amid all the great marketing strategy in advance of the movie’s release, there were some brands who were just trying to ride the wave, so to speak. For instance, you’ll have a hard time convincing me that a Darth Vader showerhead is something the world truly needs.

What Can We Learn?

Stay on brand.

Don’t feel like you have to be a part of the newest, biggest thing just for the sake of it. Know your brand, and only promote or integrate what feels credible. Or stated another way…don’t be the Darth Vader showerhead.

Be strategic.

Take a page out of the Disney book, and use whatever avenues are at your disposal to strategically market your products and services. While you may not have the Disney media conglomerate in your arsenal, there are still many channels available for integration into your brand strategy. Don’t be afraid of trying new things, but make sure to optimize what you have available.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a movie to watch.

Filed Under: Branding

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