Disney And Partners' Big 'Star Wars' Ad Spend: Lessons Learned, If Success Is Achieved?

Many are expecting record box office revenue results for Walt Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” -- with a lot of help from its consumer product partners.

Disney spent some $25 million in national TV advertising for the movie since early October through Dec. 17, according to estimates from

And then there are the consumer product marketing partners: Subway added to the media pile with a big $8.8 million for its co-branded “Star Wars” TV commercial -- for around a month of advertising leading up to the movie’s Dec. 18 opening.

Verizon Wireless forked over $8.3 million for its “Star Wars” association; General Mills, $5.7 million; Duracell added $5.4 million in co-branded TV commercial time; and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, $5 million.

Other “Star Wars” TV spenders: Dodge, $3.2 million; Disney Video Games also adding $3.2 million for its “Star Wars” video games; Jeep Cherokee, $1.8 million; General Mills’ kids yogurt GoGurt, $1.8 million; Ram Trucks, $1.1 million; and Build-A-Bear, $700,000.



Total national TV ad spend so far: $70 million.This doesn’t count digital spending. One might also need to count the marketing value of all that “earned media” -- the slew of press coverage and other free content association that came the movie’s way.

It also doesn’t count the benefit of related “Star Wars” products. Since October 18, Electronic Arts’ for its “Star Wars: Battlefront” video game has plunked down a big $17.1 million for a number of TV commercial executions.

For all its high profile exposure, there may be one record “Star Wars” doesn’t get, nor that it wants: TV advertising money spent.

Other wide-release big studio movies have -- according to reports -- spent close to $150 million in marketing (and distribution) costs when all is said and done. One report puts Fox’s “Avatar” in this lofty range. But who really cares when you look at big picture: That movie pulled in $2.8 billion in global box-office revenue!

Disney should expect some decent media efficiency if the movie ratchets up to “Jurassic World”’s revenue totals. “Jurassic World,"s the latest movie of the significant action-adventure franchise, set the current U.S. opening weekend record earlier this year:  $208.8 million. Total U.S box office revenue landed at $652 million for the movie, with worldwide revenue at $1.7 billion.

Universal Pictures' "Jurassic World” spent a comparable level to Disney’s “Star Wars” for national TV advertising: $25 million. The movie also had sizable advertising spending from consumer product marketing partners.

So has anything changed here with this “Star Wars”? Will one of the most recognizable action adventure movie of the modern era set new marketing boundaries when makes its glorious return starting today? Then again, maybe it doesn’t need to.

2 comments about "Disney And Partners' Big 'Star Wars' Ad Spend: Lessons Learned, If Success Is Achieved?".
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  1. Dennis Burton from PromoScout, December 18, 2015 at 1:38 p.m.

    As a disclaimer, I'm not a big fan of star Wars, period.  But I was already sick of all the "over-promotion" and ABC cross-promotion that started what seems like months ago, before the movie ever opened. Save your money Disney, all you had to do was post "New Star Wars Coming" on-line and let the fan-atcis take care of the rest and leave us "non-believers" out of it.

  2. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, December 18, 2015 at 2:44 p.m.

    This isn't really a movie ad campaign. It's about driving an entire franchise worth of games (e.g. The new massively successful Battlefront), toys, views of the first 6, cartoon advertising, etc...

    So while those are big numbers for "just a movie", this one ain't just "a movie"... It's far far from that. 

    If if we wanted to number geek out... What % of the ad spend is for future brand build (maybe 20%?), what percent for toys and games (35%?), for sales of the other properties (10%?), and for this movie (that leaves 35%).

    All in all, that looks like money smartly spent?

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