From China to the UK, a Death Star Sized Array of Star Wars Brand Tie-ins


Star Wars COVERGIRL Light Side Dark Side Force Awakens 2015

Five years ago there was only one Star Wars-themed ad that everyone was talking about. Some may feel that VW teaming with Darth Vader is more appropriate these days.

But here we are with Star Wars: The Force Awakens less than a month away from opening, and audiences are getting as stuffed full of Star Wars messaging as a Thanksgiving turkey. Sure, there are film-related ads but also an Imperial fleet’s worth of brands cruising the Star Wars wave. Below, a (nearly) comprehensive update of tie-ins.

The weekend featured a mock audition reel on Saturday Night Live with J.J. Abrams and a new trailer during the American Music Awards (broadcast on the ABC network, owned by Disney—which also owns Star Wars) as well as a full-on Star Wars tribute with a cappella sensations Pentatonix.

If you doubted for a second that Disney was not going to leverage its new franchise for all its worth, think again. In addition to juicing ABC, Disney has fed the in-demand Star Wars content to another of its platforms, ESPN.

It debuted the first trailer during ESPN’s Monday Night Football, and during another Monday Night Football game, extended analysis of game play included a formation that ESPN announcers dubbed the “Star Wars Formation.”

Capturing a bit of that charm that made the VW ad so special, HP invites fans to “Reinvent Romance with R2-D2” as part of its larger Star Wars-themed campaign, called #AwakenYourForce.

Capturing a bit of that charm that made the VW ad so special, HP invites fans to “Reinvent Romance with R2-D2” as part of its larger Star Wars-themed campaign, called #AwakenYourForce.

HP has also presented an opportunity for those looking to nerd-out over one of the many Star Wars brand tie-ins. Do you recognize the elder actor at the end of HP’s “Epic Battle with Instant Ink?” That would be actor Garrick Hagon, aka Biggs Darklighter, aka “Red Three.”

Most of Hagon’s scenes were famously cut from the final version of 1977’s Star Wars. The Darklighter character and his excision has recently became a bit of a cult cause.

HP’s “Sound Wars” was a little larger in scope. (The making of “Sound Wars” is actually as interesting as the ad itself.) HP Will also offer a special edition Star Wars notebook.

HP isn’t the only brand reaching back into Star Wars history for its ads though. Walmart gets the voice of Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) for one of its messages.

And then there is Google. Its new “Awaken the Force Within” campaign allows users to choose light or dark sides and Star Warsify their Google experiences in apps like Gmail and Google Maps.s

The Maps features seem especially geeky as your vehicle is now an X-Wing or Tie Fighter. Users can also add Star Wars sound effects

Verizon is also putting its brand on Star Wars. (The Death Star’s greatest weakness? Only two bars and no 4G.)

Toys R Us adds a twist to the Star Wars mythology with “Like Father, Like DAUGHTER.” Two months ago Toys R Us in New York’s Times Square held a massive midnight Star Wars event.

As noted earlier, Disney is throwing its full might behind its Star Wars franchise. Its Disney Experience stores are no exception. For example here is app-enabled BB-8 and a hedgehog because why not.

The big question is, what can CoverGirl’s Star Wars-branded cosmetics collection do for Dengar?

Star Wars breakfast is from right now in a galaxy very very close to your grocery store’s cereal isle.

While General Mills puts its cereals inside a conventional nuclear family, Campbell’s aims its blaster at kids with two dads.

While some brands like Campbell’s are taking the sincere celebrations of Star Wars, others are doing a more modern, sardonic and meta approach. One of these is Walmart find its “Jedi Dress Codes” message.

How often is it that a battery commercial gets over 9 million views? That’s what happens when you’re Duracell and you can leverage Star Wars for your “Battle for Christmas Morning” message. Those Star Wars toys aren’t going to bleep bloop burrrrt bleep themselves.

The Star Wars Battlefront video game employed Gen Y favorite actress Anna Kendrick for a bit of meta fun.

And speaking of Gen Y, Kraft’s Mac and Cheese Star Wars commercial perfectly skewers the old guard.

Overseas audiences are getting treated to Star Wars mashups that domestic audiences will never see. Telecom provider Telefónica UK Limited, aka “O2”  brought old school droids C3PO and R2-D2 together with their new school peer BB-8.

Or how about France’s Star Wars avec La Poste:

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, consumers can swing by the Mos Isely cantina for a foot long Subway and some The Force Awakens swag.

Swap out the Caucasians for some Asians and you’ve got Subway’s Hong Kong advert.

While in Hong Kong why not take in a musical Star Wars by way of Stomp promotion for the film.

That is from the same Hong Kong Star Wars group that this summer created a short film for the Hong Kong Times Square experience.

Still in China: Appliance-maker Haier has created an moving refrigerator in reaction to R2-D2.

It’s not all commercial though. Harrison “Ham Solo” Ford joined non-profit support organization Omaze to surprise some fans online.

Of course, unofficial Star Wars parodies and videos are everywhere and do as much to reinforce the film’s marketing onslaught as well as the official marketing programs.

Above, easily the best of these videos—an unofficial spot for the US Navy—and below a great Star Wars parody of the sensational 2015 John Lewis holiday advert.

Finally, there is one ad that seems to highlight one of the biggest complaints about new Star Wars merchandising. In a scene from Wal-Mart’s Star Wars-themed ad about why Star Wars’ “princess” doesn;t need rescuing, a young girl explains, “Because she’s a modern empowered woman unfettered by the antiquated gender roles of a bygone era.”

But much as it was earlier this year with Disney’s Avengers franchise, Star Wars action figure sets have been curiously absent the film’s female character Rey. As upset users on social media have pointed out, this despite the fact that Rey is a central character in the film.

And the last word goes to uber Star Wars fan Stephen Colbert, who quipped about the onslaught of marketing tie-ins, “May the forced integration bet with you.”


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