By: Mark Lindquist
The Forbes.com article “The Force Is With Them: Three Companies That Will Make Big Money From Star Wars”, by Lauren Gensler discusses how the Walt Disney Company, Hasbro, and Electronic Arts will heavily profit from the release of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Purchasing LucasFilm in 2012 for $4 billion, Disney acquired the company that created Star Wars, one of the most popular movie brands ever created. Now in 2015, Disney is producing a continuation of the story beginning in December with the release of Episode VII. Star Wars: Episode VII appeals to a wide range of target markets because it is designed for the younger generations, yet provides powerful nostalgia to many adults, parents, and science fiction enthusiasts that grew up with the original Star Wars movies.
Marketing for a movie brand that has had an immensely loyal fan-base for over 30 years globally, Disney had high expectations placed on its shoulders the moment that the dotted line was signed. Disney has been a well-known entertainment juggernaut for decades and has been very successful at selecting marketing and promotion techniques. Partnering with Hasbro toys, Disney launched the campaign “Force Friday” to promote the newest Star Wars toy-line to be sold beginning midnight Friday, September 4th, 2015.
When I thought of the words “Force Friday” I felt the message of a special sales holiday such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, which differentiated Force Friday as an extraordinary day of the year. Two days prior on September 2nd, Disney created a line of YouTube videos using Star Wars fans and famous internet personalities to introduce the new merchandise for 18 consecutive hours. The online event concluded with a global toy-opening celebration on Force Friday. Star Wars is one of the few brands that receive such profound star treatment on a global scale. Electronic Arts is to further promote Episode VII when Star Wars Battlefront is released on XBOX One and PS4 gaming consoles this November.
With its very effective utilization of integrated marketing communications, Disney focused on a more personal approach utilizing direct and interactive marketing techniques. Using YouTube as its social-media channel, Disney made an effort to create a personalized relationship with the Star Wars fan-base and allowed the fans to self-market the movie while enjoying the new products. The YouTube videos served as a conduit for online direct marketing from the seller to the potential customer, but in this case Star Wars fans communicated directly to fellow Star Wars fans. The videos also inherently produced integrated marketing because the fan-base was allowed to be in control of the content. Disney also made AIDA marketing look easy, when in just 18 hours it went through the process of attention, interest, desire, and action, enticing the Star Wars fan-base.
Star Wars is a perennial powerhouse movie brand, and Disney is already generating millions in profits because it took a personal interactive approach with its loyal fan-base. Beginning in 2015, Hasbro’s sales from Star Wars toys are expected to double to from $200 million to $400 million annually, due to the Force Friday promotion. Electronic Arts is expected to sell a minimum of 9 to 10 million copies of Star Wars Battlefront just weeks prior to the Episode VII release. For Disney, Star Wars is capable of making its owner an additional $500 in revenues from merchandise and Episode VII could possibly reach $1 billion in revenues. According to Disney’s CEO Bob Iger, “the excitement around the film was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.” It is uncertain at this time if the Star Wars movie and merchandise excitement will continue after Episode VII is released, but for now the fans can conclude that the Star Wars movie brand is in very capable hands.
Gensler, Lauren. “The Force Is With Them: Three Companies That Will Make Big Money From Star Wars.” Forbes. Forbes-Investing, 3 Sept. 2015. Web. 04 Oct. 2015.