The Force Is Strong at Retail
Activity supporting the December release of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ kicked off Sept. 1
Walt Disney Co.’s next Star Wars film, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” won’t hit theaters until Dec. 15, but the second-ever observance of “Force Friday” kicked off at midnight on Sept. 1 to mark the launch of a slew of toys, collectibles, games and other licensed products tied to the film.
This year, Disney and Lucasfilm leveraged augmented reality to stage a weekend-long treasure hunt at participating retailers, many of which also stocked various exclusive products and held midnight openings for the global Black Friday-style marketing event.
Shoppers scanned “Find the Force” graphics in stores or online with the Star Wars mobile application to unlock film characters and earn digital rewards. Participants who shared a photo or video on Twitter or Instagram also vied for a grand-prize trip for four to Los Angeles for the upcoming film’s global premiere and to San Francisco to tour the Lucasfilm offices. Fifty secondary winners received a Star Wars prize pack. New York-based LeadDog Marketing Group handled that effort.
At Walmart, select stores held weekend events offering games, activities, giveaways and exclusive-product demos. Standees positioned near store entrances enabled the scavenger hunt, while licensed toys earned secondary merchandising space on pallet displays in Action Alley. A six-foot-tall Lego model of Luke Skywalker also toured six Walmart locations leading up to the occasion. An Aug. 15 Facebook update from Walmart supported the activity.
General Mills deployed a “Be Jedi Ready” pallet display stocking select cereal brands in promotional packaging delivering coupons for $10 off Hasbro’s “Force Link” starter set. A Walmart.com display ad supported that effort. Other themed ads led to a seasonal showcase spotlighting licensed products that also were promoted in a Sept. 1 circular feature.
Target lured shoppers by promising a $10 or $25 gift card with a Star Wars purchase of more than $50 or $100, respectively, and a chance to win a four-foot Star Wars character plush at participating stores. P-O-P activity included door clings, bollard covers, standees (some enabling the scavenger hunt), rack and in-line headers, as well as motion-activated, illuminated endcaps in the toy department. Circular features, a YouTube video, Twitter updates and a Target.com page supported the activity.
Best Buy plugged its exclusive SKUs with Sept. 6 Facebook and Twitter updates that linked to a licensed product showcase on its website. The page also invited preorders of Disney and Lenovo’s “Star Wars: Jedi Challenges,” an augmented reality gaming system set to release Nov. 3. An Aug. 31 email blast, paid search ads on Google, and Tweets from tech bloggers reviewing Propel’s Star Wars “collector edition” aerial drones supported. In stores, a floorstand merchandised app-enabled droids from Sphero. Select stores also held demo events from Sept. 1-3.
Amazon.com similarly employed paid search ads on Google to drive consumers to a licensed showcase. Rotating carousel ads spotlighted products from key manufacturers Hasbro, Lego, Sphero and Philips Norelco. A display ad within the destination also dangled a free movie ticket with purchase of a Millennium Falcon playset from Mattel’s Hot Wheels.
Staples also shined a spotlight on Propel’s Star Wars aerial drones with kiosk signage and upfront table displays flanked by standees enabling the scavenger hunt. A Staples.com display ad, an ad in a Sept. 6 email blast as well as Sept. 1 Facebook and Twitter updates touted the drones and directed users to a Star Wars e-commerce shop.
Meijer built anticipation with a countdown on a promotional page within its website that gave way to links to relevant e-commerce pages. A Sept. 1 email blast, Facebook updates, a feature in the digital version of the mass merchant’s Aug. 27-31 circular and a home page display ad all linked to the destination, with many of the creative elements also promoting the scavenger hunt. Stanchion signs plugged the new SKUs in stores.
Path to Purchase Institute (P2PI)
Petco used the occasion to promote the addition of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” pet toys to its exclusive Star Wars Pet Fans Collection line, which received secondary merchandising space on floorstands in stores. A home page carousel ad, an ad in a Sept. 1 email, and Facebook and Twitter updates linked to an e-commerce page for the brand, which also promoted the scavenger hunt. A feature in the retailer’s Aug. 20 circular previewed the line and plugged a themed grooming salon package. Stanchion signs, window posters and an ad in a concurrent email supported the activity.