Tomorrow, May 4th, is Star Wars Day (unofficially). It’s a day when fans everywhere will share the loving phrase of good wishes, “May the fourth be with you,” which is a play on the movies’ popular line, “May the force be with you.” As a huge Star Wars fan myself, I love taking a day to let my geek flag fly high. It’s a time of solidarity for Star Wars fans everywhere – although, this year, it’s a reminder of the Star Wars family that we’ve lost.
Over the years, many of the actors from Star Wars have passed from this life to a galaxy far, far away. However, the deaths of main characters from a movie series that changed the world seem to hit fans the hardest. Sir Alec Guinness, the original actor for Obi-Wan Kenobi, died from liver cancer in 2000. Then, in 2016, both Kenny Baker (who was known for his role as R2-D2) and Carrie Fisher (who played Leia Organa) passed away. This year, just days before Star Wars Day, we lost another member – Peter Mayhew, who played the adored Wookiee named Chewbacca. On a personal note, the man who originally portrayed Chewie is the reason that I fell in love with Star Wars. So, to quote Maz Kanata, “I love that Wookiee!”
I find it fitting that today, in honor of Peter, I make a special tribute to the film series, especially a particular marketing tactic that helped make the franchise what it is today.
To date, eleven – yes, ELEVEN – different Star Wars movies have been released. While this includes Star Wars: The Clone Wars (which is not listed on the official Star Wars website, likely because it is animated), it does not include TV specials, numerous animated series, and even a couple of Lucasfilm-produced parodies. Even Lego decided to cash in on the craze. Promoting its Star Wars Lego sets, Lego has created multiple short films, TV specials, and animated series based on the Star Wars universe.
Over the past 42 years, the Star Wars franchise has had some of the best marketing ever seen – even when they weren’t making movies at the time. One of their keys to success has been the sheer number of other brands that they have merged with for marketing purposes. In addition to Lego, the Star Wars marketing teams have hooked up with Kraft Heinz (the makers of the famous mac and cheese), Google, Nissan, and even Cover Girl – just to name a few. Their ability to showcase through other brands to a wide range of audiences has obviously proven to be effective. All of the movies (including re-releases) have totaled a box office gross of over 4 BILLION dollars! That’s a lot of Galactic Credit…
We can all take some marketing advice from a franchise that has taken over the globe for the past four decades. If nothing else, partnerships can make all the difference. Find out who you can partner with in order to expand your audience. Know your customer base and what they want – then give them exactly that. Just remember the words of the great Jedi master, Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.”