Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you have seen the trailers or heard the
music or seen the partnering ads for The Force Awakens that will be premiering later this week. With all
the buzz surrounding the flick (the first trailer was viewed 112M times in its first 24 hrs.), you would think that
Disney’s ad budget would be out of this world, right? WRONG! So far, Disney has only spent $19.3M on
TV advertising. (AdAge Star Wars: The Force Awakens TV Spend 12/10/15) To put that into perspective,
blockbuster hits such as Jurassic World and Furious 7 spent $32.4M and $31.7M, respectively.
(Variety, Mid-Year Movie Report 7/29/15) How can such a relatively low ad spend result in so much exposer?
The answer is in co-branded spots and freebees upon freebees upon freebees. (All in the last wk, the University
of Detroit Mercy and the Detroit Pistons have had Star Wars nights and the beat goes on and on an on.)
Everyone seems to want a piece of Star Wars, and Disney is more than happy to give it to them. The
film has 7 official partners, Covergirl, Duracell, FCA US, General Mills, HP, Subway, & Verizon.
Beyond that, a slew of other companies are also in the mix, airing their own tie-in commercials including
Campbell’s, Kraft, GoGurt & Dodge. The aforementioned brands add another $47M in TV ad
spending, bringing the total to $66.3M.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! An additional $51.4M in TV advertising has been spent by secondary
merchandisers in promotion of toys and video games. While not explicitly advertising the film, the spots
still do a fine job of proclaiming the Star Wars message. Advertisers include Lego, Wal-Mart, Hasbro,
Hot Wheels, Playstation, GameStop, Kay Jewelers, Kohl’s & Burlington Coat Factory.
Electronic Arts also put out an ad for their new game Star Wars: Battlefront. The ad features Anna
Kendrick uttering Obi-Wan-Kenobi’s famous line “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful
than you can possibly imagine.” from the original film. Kendrick was chosen for the spot b/c she is a
legitimate SW super fan and b/c she resonates with younger audiences. (Adweek, Anna Kendrick Channels
Obi-Wan, 11/9/15) Together, the total TV ad spend is now $117.7M.
While this strategy may not be conventional, the results are irrefutable. While spending just 38% (not including
co-branded promotion) of the normal ad spend for a major release ($50M WSJ, Star Wars Carries Its Own Marketing
Weight for Disney, 12/7/15), the film has managed to post absurd pre-sale $$$$. The first day of pre-sales
saw the film break Fandago’s record (and for a short period of time, their website as well) selling 8 times as many
tickets as did The Hunger Games, which previously held the record. It broke the IMAX record as well,
generating $6.5M in sales its first day. No other film had sold more than $1M in a single day. (Hollywood
Reporter, Star Wars Breaks Fandango Ticket Sales Record, 10/20/15). The film has sold over $50M in pre-sale
tickets as of 11/20/15 (Forbes, For Star Wars, Record Pre-Sales Doesn’t Mean A Record Opening Weekend, 11/20/15)
including over 22,000 tickets at Emagine’s 9 metro Detroit theaters. (Detroit Free Press, Star Wars Fans
Beware 12/14/15)
Vol 25 Iss107
12/14/15 M.D. Bernacchi, PhD, JD
Prof. of Mkt, UDM
(313) 993-1116
Please also see us on mikeroscopeudm.com
Marketing & Advertising’s Bends, Trends & Ends
Star Wars isn’t the first flick to have the bulk of its advertising come from co-branded sponsors. Minions
operated on a similar formula (albeit on a smaller scale). Universal spent only $18.5M on TV ads for the film
and added another $25M from co-branded sponsors. (AdAge, 12/10/15) The film was highly successful, raking
in $335M at the domestic box office (BoxOfficeMojo). We predict The Force Awakens will easily top that
figure as it aims at Avatar ($760.5M in 2009) & Titanic ($658.6M in 1997) hoping to become the top grossing
film of all time.
Table-1 Box Office Records
Total Avatar $760,507,625 Avatar $2,787,965,087
Open Wknd Jurassic World $208,806,270 Jurassic World $525,504,103
Open Day HP: Deathly Hallows 2 $91,071,119 N/A N/A
Editor’s/Publisher’s Note: We need not further embellish the extraordinary event that is Star Wars: The
Force Awakens. It is its own gatekeeper! Having said that, we find it necessary to try to answer WHY. Our
take on it is that good and evil are often portrayed for entertainment purposes in books, the movies and on
TV. Sherlock Holmes and his opposing foes; James Bond and his enemies and how about Batman and
his host of tailor made counter heroes whether The Joker, Two-Face, The Riddler, etc. We have to go
back to the Garden of Eden however to really get a portrayal of God and Lucifer. Well guess what, that
is exactly what the Light and Dark side of the Force represent, the ultimate GOOD and ultimate BAD. In
cinematic history, there has NEVER been such a strong portrayal of right and wrong. It is IRRESISTIBLE and
very, very, very box officeable! Any questions??!!

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or bernacmd@udmercy.edu. Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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