If I Was In Charge Of Marketing “Star Wars”

Sorry Disney, you’re dropping the ball.

As a proven expert on marketing films that feature cute, highly merchandisable critters, I’m disappointed that no one from Disney asked me to do the same for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and its adorable droids.

Because for all the marketing surrounding the movie, I can still identify NUMEROUS opportunities for branding and promotion that have gone overlooked, probably to the detriment of box office revenues.

Now, I’ll give Disney’s marketing team credit for arranging a sparse handful of partnerships with Fiat Chrysler, General Mills, Campbell’s Soup, Kraft, Walmart, HP, Toys R Us, Duracell, Sphero, Lego, Unicef, Air Hogs, Monopoly, Coffee-Mate, Duck Tape, Cornhole sets, Covergirl, Subway, Verizon, Google, Target, EA Games, the NBA, Playstation 4, Ample Hills ice cream, ESPN, gummy vitamins, Kay Jewelers, a $28,500 Devon watch, Nerf, Furby, Pottery Barn Kids, American Tourister luggage, Waze navigation, and a number of books.

And, true, there’s also the Star Wars merchandise licensed under Disney’s Consumer Products division, including toy lightsabers, action figures, t-shirts, pajamas, bedsheets, shower curtains, costumes, towels, toasters, lightsaber barbecue tongs, chopping boards, salt/pepper shakers, and other products that are estimated to net the studio $5 billion by next year.

So yes, I’ll give them that.

But… any marketer worth their weight in chambray shirts can spot all the opportunities that the studio glaringly missed here.

As such, I’ve identified some tactics the Star Wars marketing team should be implementing to maximize the film’s success, such as:

  • Creating limited-edition “Dark Side” and “Light Side” coffee blends at Starbucks.
  • Partnering with Massage Envy to create a special “The Force” package, which is essentially just a really strong Swedish massage.
  • Turning the Good Year blimp into the Good Year Millennium Falcon.
  • Having every character on every ABC show (since Disney owns that network) wear Star Wars-branded apparel and masks in every single scene and, additionally, rewrite scripts to only include the words “Star Wars” in all dialogue. (In the business, they call this “synergy.”)
  • Having Jimmy Kimmel do an entire show dressed as X-Wing pilot Poe Dameron, with sidekick Guillermo dressed as BB-8.
  • Similarly, creating an all Star-Wars-themed episode of Dancing With The Stars, but renaming it something clever like “Dancing With The Stars… Star WARS, That Is!”
This seamless product placement just makes sense.
  • Making Daisy Ridley (who plays the Resistance fighter Rey) the official spokesperson for Daisy Sour Cream, and having Star Wars partner with that brand. (Ideally this would involve product placement, with the characters prominently eating Daisy-brand sour cream and cottage cheese throughout the film and during important action scenes.)
  • Partnering with elementary schools to have children recite the opening title scroll from the new film, instead of the Pledge Of Allegiance.
  • Having director J.J. Abrams go door-to-door to personally inform people about the film’s release, as Dave Itzkoff suggests.
  • Encouraging all cast and crew to tell their friends and family to go watch the film.
  • Having Disney purchase the Sahara Desert and rename it Jakku, i.e. the desert planet featured in The Force Awakens.
  • Having director J.J. Abrams write a Medium post about the 10 things he did before 8 a.m. each day while filming the movie.
  • Partnering with every major airline to have pilots dress up as Poe Dameron and deliver all in-flight announcements as that character.
  • Doing a “takeover” of any number of antidepressant medications by making the pills look like little BB-8 droids.
  • Sponsoring WWE Monday Night Raw and having villain Kylo Ren square off against John Cena.
  • Partnering with Medieval Times to have all the knights battle each other with lightsabers instead of swords.
  • Partnering with Just For Men: Touch of Gray to create a “Touch of Gray: George Lucas Edition”
  • Selling Star Wars-branded caskets that look like Han Solo frozen in carbonite, except instead of a mold of Harrison Ford, it would feature a metal cast of the deceased, obviously…
  • Sponsoring an episode of the Maury Povich show in which Han Solo takes a paternity test to settle rampant speculation about whether he is or isn’t the father of Rey and Kylo Ren. Han’s resulting freakout would go viral and, thus, garner a TON of what we in the biz call “earned media.”
  • Partnering with Mederma for a special edition “Scar Wars” scar gel.
  • And last but not least, partnering with the Minions franchise to include a Minion character in the new film. Can you imagine the crossover success with both Star Wars AND Minions franchises combined into one?

Granted, we can’t be 100% sure of the studio politics that may have prevented a larger marketing effort. But one can only hope that any future Star Wars films, if they are to succeed, get the marketing push they deserve.

So next time, Disney, save yourself the embarrassment and drop me a line.


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Oh, and also, go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on December 18th!


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Hat-tips for this article: The Drum, Mike Murphy, and Mike Isaac:

And of course, may the force be with you.