The (Marketing) Force Is Strong In This One!

It’s not hard to see why the original Star Wars trilogy was so popular with a certain generation; and why the same generation was not at all impressed with the follow-up trio that were released 18 years later. I was born in 1993, and was five when The Phantom Menace was released, therefore not really being able to engage properly with anything going on around me let alone try and follow the plot of a sci-fi movie, even though I still probably had a higher mental age than Jar Jar Binks. And I was still only 11 when The Revenge of the Sith was released 10 years ago.

I, like many people my age, have seen all of the films, mainly prompted by parents or friends whose parents have prompted them. I used to have all the figurines, memorabilia and unashamedly a pretty awesome lightsaber. This was thanks to the love of the saga passed down from the older generation, but I have never really been able to enjoy the hype around the movies when it’s been at its highest.

This is why the upcoming movie is so big for so many Star Wars fans aged in their early 20’s and below as it will be the first time we can bask in all its intergalactic glory. This is the film of our generation, and thank god we are going to be represented by something that looks better than any of the previous three episodes. But this era won’t be the only ones licking their lips at the next part if the previews are anything to go by, as it seems to be catering for fans across the ages, with the likes of Harrison Ford returning as Han Solo.

Since its release last week, the trailer for the seventh Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens, has racked up an incredible 48,000,000 views on YouTube alone. Videos of the film’s latest stars, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, reacting to the three-minute-long teaser, in very different ways, have gone viral. Ridley, who plays Rey, was reduced to tears, whilst Boyega, who features as a rogue Storm Trooper, visibly jumped for joy as he leapt over his sofa. You can only imagine hundreds of thousands of fans’ reactions were along the same lines; it’s hard to believe a film that isn’t out for another two months is causing this much hysteria.

Following the trailer, demand to secure tickets to watch the film in its opening week was so high it managed to crash multiple cinemas’ websites both in the UK and US, with many of the earliest screenings completely selling out. It has been reported that the film sold eight times as many tickets in its opening day as the previous record holder – The Hunger Games. You’d be forgiven for forgetting the latest installment of another massive film series comes out next week as Spectre hits the big screen, but the Star Wars effect seems to have blown Bond out of the water.

The newly-acquired Disney franchise also has its sights set on the overall box office grossing records too where it aims to knock Avatar off its $2.767bn perch, but bookmakers such as Paddy Power aren’t too sure it can reach those out-of-this-world figures with odds as high as 16/1.

The culture behind the Star Wars phenomenon has always carried nerdy or geeky connotations, especially from people who have never seen the films or been able to get swept up in the frenzy. It seems that nowadays some people are actually taking pride in not having watched the films, instead attempting to rain on the enthusiasts’ parade. These are people who are missing out on one of cinema’s biggest ever twists *SPOILER ALERT* in the Darth Vader reveal and one of the greatest fight sequences of all-time as Darth Maul took on Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn. I personally think the tides have turned, and that Star Wars could become one of the hottest brands around over the next year or so.

The release of Episode VII will provide ample opportunities for brands to utilise the huge potential that is available to them with about two months to get something creative and unique out there. Just look at the excitement that surrounded ‘Back to the Future Day’ this month, we saw the DeLorean out on the streets of London and Nike gave Michael J. Fox a pair of self-lacing shoes.

The opportunities are almost endless, and it is intriguing to see what people have up their sleeves.

One previous Star Wars stunt that captured the imagination was the BT Tower lightsaber stunt, a genius light show creation that marked the release of ‘Star Wars: The Complete Saga’ boxset. I can already sense a fleet of personalised hashtags invading Twitter; tweets followed by a Chewie or a Darth Vader emoji will probably be ten a penny. And if a PR somewhere doesn’t commission a Death Star to fly over the capital, I will be very disappointed!

One thing is for sure, a lot of lightsabers will be pulled down from attics and from under beds as Jedi fans dust them off ready for the return of THE FORCE that is Star Wars.

Further Reading