The first new “Star Wars” movie in 16 years is landing in theaters Dec. 18, but for marketers watching Disney execute on its “very deliberate” rollout, the awe factor began months ago and will likely continue far beyond the flick’s opening day.
According to Adobe Digital Index (ADI), marketers could very well learn a few lessons from Disney’s amplification of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”—a consistent drumbeat that has surrounded fans with content since Sept. 4, a.k.a. “Force Friday.”
Here are five insights from the campaign.
1. Know Your Audience And Your Brand
According to ADI analyst Adam Lloyd, Disney clearly knows its audience, something many marketers preach but don’t actually execute on.
So what do they know? Well, “Star Wars” fans are fanatics. They’re obsessed with the franchise and its characters. They’re hotly anticipating the release of the movie and, historically, have been very much into collectables.
That’s precisely why Disney created “Force Friday,” a new “holiday” on which Disney unleashed its new “Star Wars” merchandise (toys, games, even bed sheets). Fans were certainly abuzz. The term and “Force Friday” hashtag generated more than 215,000 social mentions on the day, with 65% of social activity expressing joy, admiration, and surprise. In comparison, Amazon’s “Prime Day” wrangled in 300,000 mentions, but social media posts were 50% sadness.
2. Think Strategically About Partnerships
Disney has several strategic partnerships in place for promotion of its new film. Hasbro, for example, created action figures. Electronic Arts was brought in for a new video game, “Star Wars Battlefront.” (Fans were allowed to try the game out as part of a prerelease effort in October.) Other partners include Lego, Twentieth Century Fox, and Sony.
According to ADI, “Star Wars Battlefront” was the most bought “Star Wars” item on Cyber Monday. Leading up to its release Nov. 17, Battlefront was mentioned via social media 551,000 times, with the majority of posts expressing joy.
In addition, ADI used analytical data to determine the hot “Star Wars” products this holiday season. Beyond the video game, they include “Star Wars: The Complete Saga” (movie), “Star Wars” Advent calendar, the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Lego AT-AT, Lego Imperial Star Destroyer, and the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy.
3. Surround Your Customer
According to Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI, Disney’s cadence of continued strategic marketing moments throughout the entire release process is unprecedented.
“There was a trailer for the film, which is mainly teasing fans. ‘Force Friday’ was colossal, and then came the video game prerelease,” Gaffney said. “The size of Disney with its parks and resorts, the shops, the movie content, everything they do--it’s hard to imagine how they got the entire company to execute against this.”
4. Build Excitement To Get People Buzzing
The official trailer for “The Force Awakens” was teased Oct. 18 and then released during Monday Night Football on Oct. 19, which caused social mentions for the film to increase 2,000%. There was also a small spike in social mentions in November with the release of the movie poster, international trailer, and “official” TV spot.
The trailer introduced the movie’s newest characters to fans. Darth Vader has the most social mentions to date (590,000), but BB-8, a new character, is sitting in second place, with 513,000 mentions from September to November.
ADI’s Lloyd said that social mentions can assist in gauging the interest of particular products—BB-8, for example. It is one of the hottest selling toys this season and has, coincidentally, produced a significant amount of mentions.
5. Go Big Or Go Home
There is massive competition in marketing for attention, so brands that want to stand out need to create epic experiences. According to Lloyd, Disney’s promotion of “The Force Awakens” is one of the biggest marketing efforts the industry has seen in a while.
“Disney has pulled partners in to create toys, develop games—they’ve pulled out all the stops for this,” Lloyd said. “The ‘Star Wars’ saga has a reputation for greatness, and this is Disney’s chance to extend these movies and characters to a whole new audience. They’ve been constant in their communications, revealing bits and pieces of the universe every month leading up to the movie, and I'm sure it'll continue after.”
About Adobe Digital Insights
Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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