The Force of Branding Awakens

Time has come. We all have been waiting for months if not years or decades. Only one more night to sleep and then we’ll be back “in a galaxy far, far away”.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be shown in Dutch theaters from tomorrow’s 16th of December. And it came along with some really good marketing campaigns all around the world.

But first of all you should check out the official trailer of the saga’s latest chapter. Goosebumps guaranteed!


It’s a family thing

My very own Star Wars journey, I have to admit, started with Episode I of the new trilogy. I know: shame on me. Many years ago a childhood friend of mine introduced me to the everlasting conflict between the Jedi and the dark side of the force. I got immediately fascinated by the Star Wars universe. Together we binge-watched the whole DVD collection at once and continued one week later with the old trilogy. If he’s reading this blog post right now: Thank you very much! Every child and adult should have seen these epic movies. Should have had the pleasure to feel the excitement of fantastic lightsaber battles and know Yoda, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and all the others.

My friend himself got to know all films thanks to his dad who had successfully transferred the enthusiasm to the next generation. As Carrie Fisher, the actress of Princess Leia, said in a recent interview, Star Wars has become “a family thing. You’re going to watch your kid watch it, and wonder how he reacts.”
The tagline of Walmart’s ad campaign perfectly sums it up: “A new generation of fans is born.” Star Wars is more than just a usual blockbuster with a whole bunch of merchandise. It’s a tradition which is passed from generation to generation. But Walmart with its inspiring storytelling campaign is not the only brand leveraging the unique potential of the Star Wars hype.


The force is strong in brand partnerships

The Force Awakens probably represents the biggest promotional marketing campaign in the history of cinema. Lucasfilm extensively planned the launch marketing and set up co-operations with seven global partners namely Procter & Gamble, Duracell, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Mills, HP, Subway and Verizon. They all set up their own marketing campaigns and used the buzz of the new Star Wars movie to raise the awareness of their own products.

Duracell for instance created a fun new Star Wars-themed commercial, “Battle for Christmas Morning” which shows a boy who immersed himself in a galaxy far, far away. After fighting storm troopers in his hallway he’s running in the backyard to rescue his sister – with the help of his Duracell battery-powered lightsaber.


Disney’s new cash cow

Not only the brands, be they officially partnering or not, benefit from the new movie’s media coverage but also Disney itself. By acquiring Lucas Arts for $4.2B in 2012, Disney purchased not only the rights to produce new Star Wars movies but also all merchandising and licensing rights. So there should be enough opportunities for them to generate income and leverage the acquisition.


Source: YouTube Screenshot

And not only that. Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box-office monitor Rentrak, is expecting historically high profits from ticket sales when The Force Awakens reaches cinemas. “We are certainly looking at a record opening for December, and should go on to make at least a billion dollars worldwide. Truly, Star Wars is the ultimate movie brand.” By fulfilling this expectation, the movie would even break the record of June’s Jurassic World which gained $524M on the first weekend.


Win-win thanks to lightsaber barbecue forks

Never before has a film been advertised as extensively and on as many different channels as The Force Awakens. And never before has there been such an enormous potential for win-win situations and successful marketing co-operations. Not only do Disney and the movie itself benefit from the huge media coverage but also every brand that is able to create a connection to its own products or services. Even if it is as creative as a lightsaber barbecue fork, Han Solo refrigerator or Death Star ice cubes.

Do you know more (especially Dutch) brands which made use of the hype around the new Star Wars movie? Tell us in the comments below. And may the force be with you tomorrow.


Written by Felix Kausmann