The force is strong: The best of Star Wars marketing


Brands have shown that you don’t necessarily have to be involved or even relevant to the movie to cleverly insert yourself into the Star Wars buzz. 

Star Wars was one of the themes of last week’s Tweets of the Week. It made sense that Target and Best Buy tweeted about the movie, with all the related merchandise they sell. On the other hand, Emirates Airline and Detroit Pistons, have nothing to do with Star Wars but wanted to be seen on the bandwagon anyway. Brands sometimes fall flat attempting that, but those two tweets worked for me because they tied in to the topic at hand in a clever way.

The Force Awakens, the franchise’s seventh installment that will be out tomorrow, is basically Tweets of the Week on crack. Having already broken box office records by selling more than $100 million in advance tickets, the movie has generated so much buzz that of course, every marketer in every galaxy wants their brand attached to it.

Some, like Star Wars duct tape and cans of SpaghettiOs emblazoned with Darth Vader’s face, are kind of ridiculous. But other brands, despite not being who you’d immediately associate with the movie, have done some clever marketing nonetheless. Here are a few favorites:


Have you ever wondered what kind of music Anakin Skywalker, Boba Fett and Princess Leia would listen to if they were here? Spotify has, and it’s crafted a whole bunch of playlists based on those extrapolated tastes. The streaming service’s website can analyze your musical tastes and tell you which character your tastes most match up with. I like a lot of classic rock, so Spotify says my musical soulmate is Han Solo. And you know what? He is. “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix is my jam.


Cover Girl

If there was ever a vertical that has nothing to do with Star Wars, it’s the beauty industry. And while Star Wars-branded cosmetics are a bit gimmicky (mascara called “The Dark Side,” really?) I like the way CoverGirl went as far as to create entire looks based on those products. The brand’s Tumblr has video tutorials and face charts about transforming yourself into a stormtrooper or a droid. And even if you don’t want one of those looks, the girls who dress as Queen Amidala still need a lot of makeup.



A new Facebook filter allows users to superimpose light sabers over their profile pictures. By choosing red or blue, they can also declare their allegiance to either the First Order or the Dark Side. Truthfully, this isn’t one of my favorite moves, but I have to acknowledge how much engagement it’s generating, as these things generally do. Just think about how many rainbow or French flag-faced people you’re friends with.



Target has more of a vested interest in Star Wars, partnering with Disney and selling so many movie tie-ins. Where else can you buy the original trilogy on DVD, bottles of Nestle Coffee-mate shaped like Chewbacca and the aforementioned Dark Side mascara? Target still deserves a mention for being so active. Its Share the Force website goes down the user-generated content route, allowing users to share their favorite Star Wars memories. Beyond that, the retailer had an entire event in Los Angeles promoting the movie, with virtual light shows, Lego stations, rare memorabilia and Jedi Mind Trick lessons.


Electronic Arts/Walmart

The deluxe edition of Star Wars: Battlefront was released a month ago and has pretty good reviews: 45 percent on Amazon gave the $70 video game at least four stars. The game costs a bit more on Walmart’s website, though not by much. And for that extra $29, consumers get the game along with a Han Solo frozen in carbonite mini-fridge. This is one of the more absurd examples of Star Wars merchandise out there, but it’s also a lot cooler than, say, a cereal box with the Trix rabbit as Princess Leia. (Though it’s arguably not as cool as a Death Star-shaped waffle maker). And hardcore fans are probably buying the game from Walmart because of it.


Like Target, Verizon went down the “experiential” route, presenting the official livestream from the movie’s world premiere on Monday night. Verizon customers were able to submit questions via Twitter for the stars to answer on the red carpet – and possibly see their profile pictures displayed on-screen. Taking it one step further, viewers were also able to toggle between four different video streams: a director’s cut of the produced show, as well as the talent arriving, posing for photographers and walking down the red carpet. Like Target, Verizon is a Star Wars promotional partner so it’s in the telecommunications giant’s best interest to do movie-related marketing. But this is still pretty cool.