Disclaimer – I am not a huge Star Wars fan. As a matter of fact, I’m one of only a few humans in the civilized world that has seen only one (the first) Star Wars movie. Do not hold this against me, but as I’m sure you might imagine from my writing, I’m not a huge science fiction buff.
As a marketer, I’m equal parts impressed and depressed by the Starwarsification of American culture surrounding the upcoming December 18 release of the newest movie in the series.
Yes, Star Wars is the most successful film franchise of all time.
Yes, Star Wars is now owned by Disney, one of the most successful promotional machines of all time.
Yes, the top brands in the consumer product world have been salivating over the potential to partner with this movie since it was first announced.
One can look at this perfect alignment of the stars as a symbol that all is right in the universe, however as a consumer I’m just a bit beleaguered by the fact that anything good will come out of these cross promotions.
I’m impressed because anything that is so well orchestrated and has so many folks singing from the same songbook must be a monumental undertaking. I can only imagine the number of meetings it must have taken to sort through the brand rules on both sides of the table.
But I’m depressed because I’m not moved or wowed by anything I’ve seen so far.
What I’ve seen as a casual observer is a few of the same snippets of the film inserted into a variety of product advertising from make-up (seriously?) to fast food to just about every product in between. I’m certain there is more to come.
The cynic in me says there’s not much to think about to be creative, just attach the name and push play.
However, why can we not push some boundaries to make a connection that is a little more ingenious? There are many bright people affiliated with this project from the production and the advertising. Why are they wasting such a potentially interesting canvas with a palette of redundant clips and bland promotions that lack any real clear energy and excitement.
Remember, VW and Star Wars from a few Super Bowls ago? That’s what I’m talking about. Make me use my mind. Let me figure out the punchline. Great stuff!
While I’m on my rant, I would like to contrast the good and bad of Stawarsification to the misguided attempt of a certain auto manufacturer and what seems to me to be an ill-fated attempt to cross-promote the Hunger Games movie over the most recent holiday. There seems to be no connection between the vehicles and the movie. Once again some less than creative editing has Jennifer Lawrence in one shot and a Dodge Ram pick-up in the next. Huh?
I’m not down on the Dodge brand. I think they’ve done some exceptional work – especially with their recent “Miami Vice” commercial and their endorsement with Miranda Lambert is spot on. However, when it comes to cross-promotion I think it takes more than a few edited commercials and adding “Blockbuster” to your Black Friday advertising campaign.
So what’s the takeaway for the arts and festivals marketing world? Lesson learned: anytime you can tie your organization, event, exhibition, concert, etc. with something that resembles the zeitgeist in your area. Go for it! Everyone will win.
However, if you’re looking to make real connections, go a little bit farther in to the possibilities of the cross-promotional opportunities that exist in your community. Make it real and lasting and people will recognize and engage with you both on meaningful levels for a long time to come … or at least until the next series of Star Wars pre-prequels are released