Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Content Marketing. A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… ok, I’m going to assume by now you’ve all seen the newStar Wars movie The Force Awakens. If not, then it’s a must on the IMAX screen, as it is truly a piece of movie making history, blowing away box office records and leaving them in the intergalactic dust. Star Wars has had its ups and downs (need I utter the name Jar Jar Binks), since George Lucas captured the hearts and imaginations of generations in 1977. And now, J.J. Abrams and Disney have brought back the original feeling of the first trilogy, and it feels oh so right. The fan in me was spellbound by the movie, but the marketer in me is blown away with the orchestration of Disney’s content marketing machine.
The marketing push that kicked off more than a year ago (yes, a year ago) was so all-encompassing, that it was virtually impossible not to know a new Star Wars movie was coming our way. Disney masterminded the content ecosystem of this campaign from the moment they announced the film – they have evidently been hard at work since they penned the blockbuster deal to acquire Lucasfilm in 2012.
With the medium of video, they were nothing short of captivating – both on television and online – kicking things off and teasing us well over a year ago with 88 seconds of gripping footage, then hitting us with a longer, twisting second teaser that dropped in April, and finally sealing the deal with the ‘official trailer’ that debuted in October 2015. I think I was already shouting, “Shut up and take my money!” with the first 88 seconds. Fervor rose, and the cast made the obligatory rounds on the talk show circuit, with even the usually reclusive Harrison Ford, playfully jumping in and driving the frenzy.
In print, they fed the marketing machine with unique, original content – by way of new novels and a robust comic series (telling the story of what has apparently happened in the 30 years between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens). Disney released exclusive interviews and spectacular photos with publications like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Time, Entertainment Weekly, and Fortune – all of these getting us more invested and driving online chatter – like Han and Chewie sitting in THE Millennium Falcon again (of course, shot by Annie Leibovitz this time around).
And, in this day and age, the force had to be strong in the digital and mobile space as well, where the content plan ran at hyperspeed. It was faster, more conversational and exceedingly more fluid than most campaigns we’ve seen to date. Starwars.com provided the central hub with spin-offs to social platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, including a very slick promotion between Disney and Google that encouraged Star Wars fans to choose between the light or the dark-side of the force to customize their experience. This online beast created incredible spokes for traction and interest, and it was fed and fed well (with layer upon layer of new content being unraveled multiple times a day, earning its way into user’s highly coveted social feeds).
From events like Comic-Con, large-scale toy releases, force-driven digital signage, and immersive Google Cardboard Virtual Reality experiences – everything added to the mystique – with Disney revealing cast members and characters live on YouTube, teasing future films, and essentially bringing fans into the movie experience as if they were agency insiders. Every inch of the content was atomized astoundingly well, with Disney remaining true to their brand through all of it, threading storylines that built effortlessly upon each other (easily generating even more content as fans tagged along with their own spectacular additions of epic proportions). “Do what you do so well that they want to see it again and bring their friends,” Walt Disney famously said – that’s the advantage of turning your customers into advocates and promoters.
And they managed all this and much more, without revealing the main storyline of the movie – I love that. In fact, they created a mystery woven around the plot that may or may not (not spoiling it for you) even be the biggest twist in the film – where is Luke Skywalker? Well, now I know…
Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications
RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES – TAKEN FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES, INCLUDING ADWEEK (JOE SCARACINO) 2015