- Disney has signed eight major advertisers to conduct campaigns in support of its new Star Wars film, "The Rise of Skywalker," according to a report in Entertainment Weekly. The partnering brands are Porsche, United Airlines, Samsung Mobile, Dannon, Bose, GE appliances, McDonald's and General Mills. "Skywalker"-themed campaigns will start rolling out Nov. 1 while the film will hit theaters on Dec. 20.
- The ads will include a special aircraft design from United Airlines, audio augmented reality experiences from Bose via the Star Wars app, Porsche's celebration of its first fully electric car, themed Happy Meals and 16 collectible characters from McDonald's and codes on General Mills cereal boxes that unlock a company donation to the Feeding America charity.
- There won't be any product placement in the film and "Skywalker" actors will not appear in any of the ads.
"Rise of Skywalker" is reportedly the last film in the enduring Star Wars franchise and arrives at a time when U.S. marketers are looking for ways to connect with consumers through culture as ad aversion grows. In such an environment, the wide appeal of Star Wars is likely to be viewed by brands as an important marketing moment during the upcoming holiday season.
While Disney wanted to partner with best-in-class companies for the new Star Wars film, the creative challenge was choosing the right brands so that marketing would feel integrated and wouldn't leave consumers wondering why a specific brand is partnering with the sci-fi franchise, Lylle Breir, SVP of global marketing and promotions at Disney, told Entertainment Weekly.
With a seamless integration in mind, much of the creative for the ads is produced by Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic visual effects and animation studio, and the filmmakers were part of the ad development process.
Promotional activity for the film kicked off on social media this week with the unveiling of a new droidsmith character called Babu Frik, which can "reprogram or modify virtually any droid," per Entertainment Weekly. Frik is one of 11 new Star Wars toys that are hitting store shelves in time for holiday shopping. Others include Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), Jannah (Naomi Ackie), and an unnamed Purge Stormtrooper.
The Star Wars franchise has enduring appeal for brands around film releases. In the spring of 2018, for instance, Hallmark helped celebrate Star Wars Day with merchandise and a social media contest, in preparation for the release of "Solo: A Star Wars Story." Star Wars Day is May 4, a pun on the movie series' famous line: "May the Force be with you." In 2017, LucasFilm and computer maker Lenovo teamed up to release a smartphone-based augmented reality experience that included light-saber fights.