What We Learned From Star Wars Marketing & Weaponized Nostalgia
With the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the 9th entry of the Skywalker saga, the sequel trilogy comes to a close and the saga also has its ending (for now). While this trilogy of movies has succeeded in earning billions in the box office, perhaps one of the most interesting things it has highlighted is how Disney and Lucasfilm utilize weaponized nostalgia in its Star Wars marketing strategy.
Plenty of our digital marketing specialists are fans of the franchise, but as a Fort Lauderdale SEO agency, we can also learn plenty of marketing lessons from it. Here are some ways to utilize weaponized nostalgia to achieve marketing goals.
Use Familiar Imagery
Ever since Star Wars: A New Hope was released in 1977, the iconography and unique world of Star Wars has become ingrained in much of the cultural zeitgeist. Images like Darth Vader, the Millennium Falcon, and glowing lightsabers are easily recognizable and are associated with feelings of hope and adventure.
The Sequel Trilogy has often used nostalgic images in its marketing materials in order to reintroduce audiences to the Star Wars world. By using something familiar, Lucasfilm is reassuring customers and validating their previous investment as they introduce a new product. The trailers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in particular, leaned heavily on nostalgia.
“When Han Solo tells Rey and Finn in the recent major trailer that “It’s true – all of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi – they’re real,” he’s not revealing anything to the characters standing in front of him so much as he’s talking to us, the audience. “Remember that thing you loved – that thing that went away? Well, it’s back,” Han is saying. That connection that you once had to Star Wars – it’s real. All of it.” – Dan Golding 1
If your company doesn’t have the storied 42-year history that Star Wars does, how can your business or brand still use familiar imagery? One way is to keep using familiar branding, whether that’s logos, color schemes, or taglines, even as you are debuting new products or services. Another way is to keep major parts of your branding the same even if you are going through a redesign.
Highlight Your Greatest Hits
The Star Wars marketing strategy for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker leaned heavily into selling the film as the “end of the saga.” After more than four decades, three trilogies, and nine films – the story about the Skywalker family was coming to an end according to the many trailers and TV spots.
To give gravitas to this self-appointed label, Lucasfilm released a series of trailers and behind-the-scenes featurettes that featured not only new footage from the upcoming movie but also footage of the movies that came before.
The trailer released at the D23 Expo 2019 was a great example of Lucasfilm highlighting some of the greatest hits. While Dark Rey was the big reveal, the trailer is cut with clips from the original trilogy, prequel trilogy, and the last two films in the sequel trilogy.2
How can this strategy apply to a normal business or brand? Instead of video clips showcasing your greatest hits, highlighting some of your effective case studies is a great way to show potential customers your past successes as well as the expertise you will bring to achieving their current marketing goals.
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- Dan Golding, Gizmodo – The Weaponized Nostalgia Of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Michael Cavna, The Washington Post – ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ trailer shows a terrifying version of Rey that we’ve never seen before