What Can Brands Learn From Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

It’s always tough rebooting an existing franchise, but for one as beloved as Star Wars, there needs to be a cautious, but calculated approach on how to roll out the movie. Star Wars is working with four decades of worth of built in die-hard fans, so this launch was equally about keeping existing fans happy while building excitement for a new generation of young Jedi.

I. Introduce the New Product In Front Of Your Biggest Fans

In April of 2015, Disney premiered the trailer for The Force Awakens at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Anaheim with director JJ Abrams hosting a Q&A session following the premiere. The convention, which takes place globally, is a collection of the biggest Star Wars fans with people dressing in cosplay similar to Comic Con. The four-day convention also saw panels with some of the stars of the film along with costume displays and presentations about the series. The Star Wars team built excitement with their core fans, allowing that excitement to trickle down to more casual fans via social media and blogs.

II. Create A Blend Of New And Old Faces

What was great about the Star Wars trailers is that they introduced us to Daisy Ridley, John Bodega and Adam Driver, the young stars who will ostensibly drive the current slate of films (all of whom were great if you have yet to see The Force Awakens). In addition to the fresh faces, both Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher were brought back to bridge the past with today. Just with the trailer alone, fans from the 70s and 80s films already had something to look forward to while giving a new group of stars for today’s kids to grow up with.

III. Myth Making As A Formula

Both George Lucas and Disney Films tell stories with a very defined story arc, and both draw from tropes of classic myth-makers from the Ancient Greeks and Norse traditions. Even without seeing the newest Star Wars film, you can probably predict how the story will be told if you’ve seen any of the past Star Wars or Disney films.

In addition to the story, Disney added an element of physicality to their myth-making with merchandise — from toys to video games to socks. The tangibility of building the newest series of Star Wars is every bit as important as the films themselves as it builds a kind of ubiquity that other movie franchises cannot reach. The biggest part of myth-making is making sure the hero’s story outlives the hero herself, and making sure Star Wars is everywhere is the best way to ensure that.

IV. Watch Out For Those TIE Fighters

Originally shared on January 22, 2016

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