What Can Marketers Learn From Star Wars: The Force Awakens?

It’s been a month now since the force awoke and we were finally treated to the release of Star wars VII: The Force Awakens. Even if you don’t work in an office where Darth Vader monitors your productivity every day like I do, you could feel the build-up and hype for December 18th in the air amongst the midichlorians.

Star Wars was everywhere and probably still is as everything from your cereal to these very tasteful Wookie Crocs were plastered with the Star Wars branding. Star Wars was truly inescapable and yet strangely it was ok, even with one of the most pervasive movie promotion and product tie-ins even seen. So what can marketers learn from the Star Wars tour de force? Here are 4 things to take away from the film and its marketing campaign.

The office enforcer

1. Good things take time

Like all good things the best content takes time to create. After Disney bought Lucasfilm back in the autumn of 2012 it was a move that assured fans that there were going to be more Star Wars films coming but nothing suddenly appeared. Instead almost 3 years past without incident and then suddenly the Force Awakens trailer appeared.

We’re home

From the first blast of that John Williams fanfare it just feels right. Disney knew they would only be able to have one shot at this, knowing how important getting the content right was for the fans. Getting it right takes time, so they took their time and thought about what they were doing and they definitely got it right.

The same is true for great marketing content and campaigns, although I wouldn’t suggest taking nearly 3 years to do it but taking your time can be really beneficial. Although taking your time and going a bit slower may seem a bit of an issue because of the real-time nature of social media, it can be in your brands and audiences best interest to hold off from rushing production and design. So instead of rushing and trying to squeeze a campaign into a small amount of time, give your campaigns a good length of time and they will perform better by being better designed and structured.

2. A great brand will always succeed

Although perhaps not the first thought when asked for a great brand, the Star Wars Franchise has become one. It can quite happily put itself up there alongside brands that regularly get quoted in lists of the best brands such as Nike or Coca Cola. This is because Star Wars like its contemporary’s is instantly recognisable, its logo and icons like Darth Vader or the lightsaber have become symbols worldwide. Even if you look to how its ads are constructed such as the tone and voice used means you know exactly what to expect, creating a consistent brand message every time. It’s why fans were buzzing in anticipation for each new trailer, ready to dissect and analyse every scene the second it was released.

It was a strategy that worked as its first teaser trailer released on November 28, 2014, generated a record 58.2 million views on Youtube within its first week of release. It fit perfectly with what fans hoped with a mix of old and new and as the Hollywood Reporter described it as “perfectly potent nostalgia” and the Guardian noted the inclusion of the iconic Star Wars fanfare by John Williams to reinforce the brand loyalty among avid fans.

It’s a great example of if you really spend time on building a strong brand, creating the right voice, tone and brand image that your audience and followers recognise and enjoy, the benefits will pay off over time. Creating a brand that brings you a follower base will mean they’ll be the ones awaiting your new content with anticipation and they’ll forgive your mistakes when they happen. That’s brand loyalty that can’t be bought and is earned through being committed to your brand.

3. Reuse content that works

(Warning: spoilers ahead)

Those of you already familiar with the film where probably struck by how similar episode VII’s plot is to the original Star Wars: A New Hope, released back in 1977. Only a few minutes in to the film and fans familiar with the series may have felt a strong sense of déjà vu as the plot seems to eerily follow in its predecessor’s footsteps. If I may summarise The Force Awakens’ 135 minutes of running time:

  • A droid is given a secret mission to carry an important message for the rebel alliance
  • The bad guys are looking for the important message
  • The bad guys are led by a black-helmeted villain
  • The helmeted villain has a shadowy master
  • The bad guys build a planet-destroying weapon
  • The rebels attack the planet-destroying weapon
  • The protagonist’s father figure is killed by a helmeted villain aboard said planet-destroying weapon.

However despite this audiences love the film, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens currently having a score of 8.4 on IMDB and 93% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing.

The lesson to be learnt here by marketers is simple: it’s ok to reuse content, especially if like Star Wars it works. If a story or campaign performed well, figure out how you can reuse or re-purpose it again for new content. If you find a certain structure of content receives better engagement from audiences, like bullet point lists or long form content, then don’t be afraid of using that format again for the next piece of content. Don’t worry that you may appear to be repetitive, as your fans like those of Star Wars will probably appreciate the consistency.

Similar it is

4. Encourage others to share your content

Even well after a week after its release The Force Awakens was still the hot topic for discussion. Every scene, character, effect and Easter egg was analysed by a plethora of sites, reviewers and critics. It was ok to love Star Wars, your friends, family and co-workers shared their insights, shared posts, tweets and messages on social media. Now while it may be unlikely that some of the content you produce gets the attention Star Wars did, it makes sense to create content that your audience will actually want to see, talk about and share. When the content you create and release is helpful and easily understood then it becomes easy to talk about. When its easy to talk about then your audience are more likely to link to it and post about it, sharing it with their friends and colleagues and in turn making your readers become your promoters.

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