- Hallmark is celebrating Star Wars Day, or May the 4th, with new film merchandise available online and in Gold Crown stores and also a social media contest, per a news release. Products, including an AT-AT-themed tape dispenser and Darth Vader paperclip holder, come ahead of the theatrical release of "Solo: A Star Wars Story" on May 25,
- Fans can win a Star Wars prize pack from Hallmark by posting a photo of their collection of curios from the series on Instagram using the hashtag #HallmarkSweepstakes and tagging @Hallmark and @HallmarkStores. A line of Star Wars-themed e-cards are also available with 20% off e-card memberships with the code "Maythe4th."
- In related news, Lucasfilm, the movie studio behind Star Wars, and its charitable initiative Star Wars: Force for Change announced "Roar for Change." For the effort, fans are invited to share their version of Chewbacca's roar. For each Facebook, Instagram or Twitter public post, like or share with the hashtag #RoarForChange through May 25, the organization will donate $1 to Unicef USA up to $1 million total. The campaign features a video of the cast of the new Star Wars movie that shows Chewbacca's on-set diva behavior.
May the Fourth — a pun on the famous line "May the force be with you" — has been a big celebration day for Star Wars fans for a few years now, but the growing popularity of social media has unlocked new opportunities for brands to capitalize on the excitement. Both Hallmark and Lucasfilm are trying to tap into that online buzz this year with promotions centered around sourcing user-generated content, with the former asking people to show off their merch collections on Instagram and the latter touting a charitable cause.
Hallmark's branding has traditionally leaned heavily on sentimentality, as in its long-running "moments" marketing. However, the company has been shifting strategy to appeal to a broader crowd by experimenting with more humor-infused campaigns and expanded digital offerings. Star Wars fans tend to collect swag tied to the franchise like toys and other knick-knacks, so many could be eager to should off their collections.
Sales of Star Wars-branded toys have slowed recently, even following the release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" in December, which is the seventh-highest grossing film of all time. While Star Wars was the top-selling toy line during the 2017 holiday season, it fell to second place for the year's overall sales, per Fortune.
Despite a notoriously embattled production, including the loss of its initial directors, "Solo: A Star Wars Story" is expected to bring in between $165 million and $175 million during its opening on Memorial Day weekend, according to Variety.