Commentary

Gillette Graciously Underwrites Rogue One Commercial

Well, at least there’s still Star Wars. Now as before, the best way for me to effect a positive impact on the universe is to prioritize being a good dad, to teach my kids to treat others with respect and steer them away from cynicism and competitive eating. Of late, that mission has expanded to include relentlessly imposing - I mean, graciously sharing - my tastes and preferences on/with the older kid. So when a classmate put a bug in his ear about Luke, Leia and the gang a few months ago, my sense of duty kicked into overdrive - “light speed,” as it were.

Since then, I’ve drilled him on the overarching mythology. I’ve sketched out the relationships between characters. I’ve even permitted him to view parts of the prequels that involve Darth Maul’s lightsaber.

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In doing so, I created a monster - not a bad monster, mind you, just one whose thirst for knowledge exceeds his Yoda-daddy’s ability to convey it. Plus there’s that whole severing-body-parts-with-futuristic-weaponry thing, the real-world consequences of which are lost on a child. Parenting would be a lot easier if explaining terrible things wasn’t part of the job.

It’s all coming to a head with the imminent release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. On one hand, kid #1 isn’t entirely clear on where the new flick fits into the grander Star Wars universe (read: “No Chewbacca? I am skeptical, dear father.”). On the other, he has made it very clear that he expects to see this thing in a dark, stadium-seated movie house within 72 hours of its debut, and I’m not about to okay that without pre-screening it first. Possibly related: I might have enjoyed my in-theater viewing of The Empire Strikes Back as a kid if my dad had prepped me for the climactic hand-amputation sequence.

For now, my solution has been to share with him all the trailers (a new international one “dropped,” as the kids say, eight minutes ago) and other age-appropriate material on the Star Wars YouTube channel. But there’s only so much there that he finds re-re-re-rewatchable, which means I’m borderline desperate for the pre-release Rogue One marketing tie-ins to arrive.

Hi, Gillette! With the recent debut of “Every Story Has a Face,” Gillette becomes the first marketer to get in on the Rogue One action. The clip kicks it Memento-style, commencing with a showdown between Stormtroopers and rebel forces and then traveling backward through the events that took place earlier in one rebel soldier’s day. Spoiler: He shaved.

The thrill, of course, is in the revelation of previously unseen footage from the movie. It’s to the creators’ great credit how skillfully they intertwine what appears to be Rogue One material with shots of the smooth-chinned rebel soldier. The brief appearance of R2-D2 at the 42-second mark is a little yoo-hoo! to the diehards, as is the feel-free-to-parse-this-for-clues-but-good-luck-figuring-anything-out-nerdlings unveiling of some of the environments in which the movie’s action transpires.

But what does a program like this do for the Gillette brand, really? I’m happy that its minders gave Disney a big pile of money in exchange for the rights to affiliate with the movie, because that means more tease-y content for me (er, and the kid)

It won’t, however, make anyone feel any more warmly towards the brand. I like Gillette because its razors and blades, unlike many competing products, don’t fillet my kitten-delicate cheeks. “Every Story Has a Face” prompts no similar affinity or sense of gratitude. If it weren’t Gillette, it would’ve been somebody else. Old-school licensing deals come off as embarrassingly antiquated in the content era.

Last year around this time, I found myself overwhelmed by the number of tie-ins/partnerships/marketing symbioses rammed down our throats in advance of the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As it turned out, my concern - that all the buildup would mute enthusiasm for the main event - was overstated. 

But at least a few of those tie-ins, particularly Duracell’s, buttressed the Star Wars association with some cleverness of its own. This? This is a movie commercial. If there’s another way to characterize it, it’s lost on me.
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