Star Wars: The Force Awakens

star-wars-the-force-awakens-quad-posterThis past December, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, hit theatres around the world, and for the first time ever, was released by the Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Many say the much anticipated film marketed itself, perhaps a brilliant business deal made by the big media conglomerate, Disney, when they acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion and moreover, the rights to the Star Wars franchise. The Force Awakens went on to rake in $2 billion dollars at the box office, breaking many box office records and becoming the third highest-grossing film of all time. The Star Wars franchise has a long history of success and that’s due to its huge fanbase. Though Disney did in fact advertise for the film, however the buzz surrounding the film was big enough for Disney to take it easy. The premiere alone was bigger than the Oscars, with Disney actually closing off several blocks of Hollywood blvd and incorporating a huge and over-the-top red carpet extravaganza unlike any other.

Hstar-wars-voice-bb8-hed-2015owever the question really is, did Star Wars: The Force Awakens really market itself, and did Disney even need to go to great lengths for its advertisement. Further, in today’s market, is it about the film or is it about the status. Surely Disney went above and beyond to market as much as they could for the film, but the unique aspect of this campaign is that Disney did not have to find and target their consumers, as Star Wars consumers were already standing tall and proud looking for any sign of Disney to even utter the words Star Wars anywhere. With that said, while a usual marketing campaign for a motion picture may most about $50 million, Disney actually only spent about $17 million on the huge blockbuster hit’s marketing campaign. An astonishing low number, but just shows how low key yet to the point Disney could go with the marketing campaign for the much anticipated film. Even up to the release of the film, movie trailers on television were at a minimum and buzz was very much self-generating.

960x0The truth is, Star Wars is already everywhere, there is merchandise in every category and the franchise is world-famous and Disney knows that. They knew that they could simply buy the rights to the franchise and utilize it as their next big project to compete with huge money-making franchises like Jurassic Park and Harry Potter, and that they did. Within weeks after the film brought in its record breaking numbers, Disney had already announced their plans to release the next Star Wars film set for December of 2016. They are making huge theme park expansions to incorporate Star Wars lands and themed attractions, all of which will compete with the ever-successful Harry Potter franchise, now recently expanded to the Universal Studios Hollywood, themepark experience.

960x0-1With all of this taken into account, it is quite interesting to see the significance behind a project that might do well, and a franchise that a studio knows will do well. Disney knew what they were in for, they knew they had acquired a famous piece of art and it was their responsibility to take it and handle it with the famous pixie dust sprinkle, Disney is known for, and that’s exactly what they did. They created characters, infiltrated stories, and made the world fall in love with Star Wars in complete new ways as if we had gone back in time to the original release. A franchise was reborn and there was no one better to handle the job than Disney.

References

Fortune (2016). Retrieved from: http://fortune.com/2015/12/08/star-wars-marketing/

Entrepreneur (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254039

AdWeek (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/disneys-massive-marketing-push-star-wars-was-relentless-also-masterful-168724

Knowledge (2016). Retrieved from: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/star-wars-how-disney-awakened-its-marketing-force/

Forbes (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alishagrauso/2015/12/28/in-hindsight-how-star-wars-the-force-awakens-ran-a-great-marketing-campaign/#1d0aa9435852

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3 Responses to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

  1. Kimberly says:

    I think some of the best marketing is made to look like it’s not marketing at all. I think this is true for Disney with Star Wars. While the film seems to market itself, I think that Disney had a lot to do with it. I feel like Star Wars has been everywhere lately (tv, social media, print, brand partnerships, etc.)! I would definitely attribute that to some high end marketing efforts by Disney. I think marketing Star Wars was important to gain excitement around the new film, as well as gain new fans. I personally never would have gone to see Star Wars, but the hype got to me!

  2. Douglas says:

    Interesting post, Tim. I think you are right, to a certain extent Star Wars Episode VII was able to market itself. As you mentioned, Star Wars has a huge following. One thing that I would say the Star Wars franchise has over some of the other motion picture franchises, such as Harry Potter, is that Star Wars spans multiple generations. Many of the people that grew up with Episodes IV, V, and VI, now have their own families that they want to share the Star Wars films with. The release of Episodes I, II, and III brought the Star Wars franchise even further with the hype that it generated (Star Wars had remained popular prior to their release, but the release of the prequels definitely gave it a boost). Now, Episodes VII, VIII, and IX can build on the prequel and take the Star Wars franchise even further.

    People were going to come out to see Episode VII, even without marketing. And many of them were going to go and see it multiple times. I think that all that was needed was enough marketing to let them know when it was being released. In my opinion, the benefit to Disney investing on marketing of Episode VII is more to the Star Wars franchise, rather than the film itself. Much like the prequel films made Star Wars even more prominent than it had been before, these sequel films serve the same role. By promoting the franchise in conjunction with the films, it will increase revenues to all of the other facets of the franchise, including: merchandise, theme parks, spin-off films and television series, etc. In addition, it creates the potential to attract even more people to the Star Wars franchise and create new fans.

  3. Karen says:

    Hi Tim,

    I think Stars Wars: The Force Awakens is a great example of how strong brands are able to market themselves. When brands are able to establish loyalty and engagement with the consumers, when anything new comes out, fans will be all over it, regards of what it is. Take for example Apple and every time they release a new iPhone. Through building a loyal fan base over the years, Apple is able to attract thousands to pre-order and wait outside their stores for the new iPhone without much marketing effort put into place.