A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there was a film franchise which captured the hearts of millions. Since its first release back in 1977 (yes, it was that long ago), Star Wars has become perhaps one of the biggest and best known film franchises of all time, with a huge base of committed fans stretching around the world. In case you haven’t heard, it is now only a matter of days until the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

With such a tantalisingly short wait ahead, it is little surprise that the countdown is having its effect on the marketing world. From Campbell’s Soup to Children in Need, Duracell to UNICEF, brands are gearing up for what could be the biggest release of 2015, perhaps even surpassing the recent James Bond movie in its impact on marketing. This week OTB is touring the galaxy of Star Wars-inspired marketing campaigns, and seeing what insights we can learn from this out-of-this-world experience…

An intergalactic line up

Some of the biggest names in FMCG marketing and beyond have joined in the ever-growing Star Wars hype in their latest round of advertising campaigns, including perhaps a few unexpected brand associations which have successfully demonstrated their creativity, flare and originality.

Take Campbell’s Soup, for instance. This store cupboard staple is an iconic household brand in its own right, even inspiring its own pop art homage some 50 years ago. Campbell’s latest campaign has coined one of Star Wars’ best known phrases “I am your father”, as this branding powerhouse cleverly explores topical issues such as same sex partnerships and the daily challenges of raising children. With its tagline ‘Made for real, real life’, this simple advert has channelled the Star Wars theme to generate discussion among its consumers and cement its place as a family favourite brand.

Another notable Star Wars marketing campaign has been the Force for Change initiative. In partnership with Lucasfilms and Disney, Force for Change is supporting the UNICEF Kid Power campaign which aims to end global malnutrition and encourage an active, healthy lifestyle among young children. The initiative uses wearable tech to encourage young children to move around and exercise, all the while gaining points which are then converted into funds for UNICEF who deliver food packets to severely malnourished children around the world. With over $6 million raised so far, the campaign is an interesting alternative to traditional aid-advertisements and a good example of a brand using its strengths to push social responsibility.

Want to see more from this intergalactic line up of Star Wars-inspired campaigns? Take a look at The Drum’s article on all the latest star-studded marketing…

What can we learn from a Star Wars strategy?

While some of the biggest brands may be buying into the Star Wars marketing hype, creating your own themed campaign may not be a viable possibility. So, what can organisations learn from the marketing strategy employed by Star Wars themselves in recent months? In an interesting article byEntrepreneur.com, it is argued that the strategy created by Disney and Lucas films can offer a number of valuable insights which can be applied to your own marketing campaign. Among these insights is the way in which the franchise has built up anticipation in the run up to the release of the film. Through a wide range of merchandise and gadgets associated with the movie being released on the aptly named “Force Friday” back in September, Star Wars was able to generate not only huge revenues but high levels of consumer interest long before the proposed release date.

Other insights include careful consideration of timing when it comes to campaign releases and promotion events, and tapping in to the potential for marketing collaborations in order to further your mutual aims. The article highlights of the Star Wars example; ‘Even with the power of the Star Wars franchise backing them up, Disney enlisted YouTube influencers through Maker Studios, which it owns. They had 14 Maker stars from around the globe do some live “unboxing” of the merchandise in the days leading up to Force Friday.’

By bringing others on board and recognising your organisation’s strengths and limitations, it is possible to build a more rounded marketing strategy which maximises the potential reach of your campaign. Wired.comwent so far as to say this cross promotion was ‘business as usual’ for Disney, with some interesting examples of how they have successfully engaged a wide range of platforms and channels in their efforts to spread the word.

So whether you’re counting down the days until the release of the latest addition to your Star Wars collection, or you might just happen to avoid the cinema that day, it is clear to see that a number of insights can be taken from the success of the Star Wars marketing strategy and its collaborations with brands from across the industry. May the force be with you this week as you embark on your Star Wars-inspired marketing extravaganza.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…