Will The Force Be With Brands This Year?

Last year, the ad world had three major sporting events to rally around: the Super Bowl, the Winter Olympics, and the World Cup. This year, there is only one major sporting event, the Super Bowl — which already occurred.

Still, there’s at least one more major event for brands to try to leverage this year. For the first time in a decade, a new “Star Wars” film is going to be released and that's something to get excited about.

Fans — and the franchise has a lot of them — have been talking about the new “Star Ways” trilogy since Disney bought LucasFilm and the rights to the franchise in 2012. They’ve been eating up every piece of Star Wars information the media, and social media, could feed them.

Trailers for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have already amassed more than 206 million views since November 2014. The second trailer, which ends with Han Solo saying, “Chewie, we’re home,” to his furry friend, got the Internet buzzing and it amassed 42 million views in its first five days.

And it’s not just the official trailers that are driving viewership. We’ve already seen fans creating their own content around the new film. The Fine Bros. recorded YouTubers reacting to the first trailer, while YouTube user Snooperking remade it with LEGOs, and YouTube user Jonah Feingold reimagined it as if Wes Anderson directed it. Most recently, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” released a video that shows babies responding to the most recent trailer.

So it’s only a matter of time before brands start jumping in with the “Star Wars”-themed content, especially since Star Wars Day (May 4) just occurred.

Let’s not forget, brands love “Star Wars.” Despite the fact that a film hasn’t been released in 10 years — YouTube was in its infancy as a company when the last film was launched — it has influenced some of the most memorable branded videos of all time.

Star Wars was the inspiration for Volkswagen’s “The Force” and “The Dog Strikes Back,” the brand’s 2011 and 2012 Super Bowl campaigns, respectively.

“The Force” follows a kid dressed up as Darth Vader as he tries to yield the force on his sandwich, a doll, a dog, and, ultimately, his dad’s Passat; it has generated 86 million views and is the most-viewed Super Bowl ad of all time. “The Dog Strikes Back” only ends with a reference to the franchise, but still garnered 43.8 million views.

Adidas also made use of "Star Wars" themes on two occasions. The brand updated the popular cantina scene from “A New Hope” to include cameos by David Beckham, Daft Punk, Snoop Dogg, Franz Beckenbauer, Noel Gallagher, Ian Brown, Ciara, Jay Baruchel, and DJ Neil Armstrong for the 2010 World Cup. It generated 6.8 million views. Earlier that year, adidas collaborated with “Star Wars” on a collection of sneakers and apparel inspired by the films’ characters and announced it with a video that garnered 2.9 million views.

Other brands to use “Star Wars” characters over the last decade include Vans, TomTom, LEGO, ThinkGeek, Currys PC World, Disney Parks, and UNICEF. We’re willing to bet, though, that this list will grow as the year goes on.

It’s not just that brands want capitalize on the most-anticipated film of the year. Consumers have a deep, emotional connection to the franchise — something that brands can build story around. As this new installment looks to play heavily on nostalgia for the first trilogy, we should expect that brands will also play up that angle. Because, as we know, nothing plays better to an audience than emotion: Remind them of their childhood in an authentic way, and you’ve got a hit.

1 comment about "Will The Force Be With Brands This Year?".
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  1. Jennifer Dyson from Jennifer Dyson Media Planning, May 8, 2015 at 3:25 p.m.

    You forgot another major sporting event this year - the Women's World Cup in Canada this summer. While it may be too late to buy media for this, it is indeed a MAJOR event.

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