A “Subtle” Shift in the Marketing of Star Wars

Does "Solo: A Star Wars Story" mark a change in how the Saga is promoted?

A "Subtle" Shift in the Marketing of Star Wars

I’ll admit it: I am not one to peruse Adweek all that often, but this headline jumped out at me:

With ‘Solo,’ Disney Is Changing Up the Star Wars Marketing Machine. Will Audiences Get on Board?
There’s a subtle shift to promoting actors, not just characters

MANY have noticed a change in the way that Disney marketed the latest of the “Star Wars Stories,” with most attributing the metamorphosis to Solo being a “smaller” movie than Episodes VII or VIII, with a production schedule (and expectation level) marred by the highly-publicized change in directors, etc.

To wit, Chris Thilk in the ADFREAK blog wrote:

One aspect of the marketing recently called out is the new poster that arrived along with a second trailer. That poster has gotten people’s attention for one seemingly ordinary thing: The names of the movie’s stars appear above the title. In fact a Reddit commenter made the claim this was the first time that had happened in the history of Star Wars films, dating all the way back to 1977.

Thilk checked on that claim, and surmised that it’s accurate, writing, “If you review the poster designs for any of the Star Wars movies to date, this Solo poster is an anomaly in that the names of the actors involved are shown anywhere but in the credits block at the bottom.”

Why might this be?

A "Subtle" Shift in the Marketing of Star Wars

Thilk agrees that the film’s marketing has been scrutinized, with the lack of promotion being attributed by some “as a sign the fears for quality were justified (in actuality the campaign likely just couldn’t overlap with that for The Last Jedi) and saw warning signs everywhere. Or at least everywhere but in the effortless cool and swagger evinced by Glover as Lando, because damn that man knows how to wear a space cape.”

But Thilk doesn’t think this is the case.

The Adweek writer espoused two theories:

  1. This signals some shift in strategy, one that’s more talent-focused and wants to reinforce the cast in the minds of the audience.
  2. It’s using the placement of those names as a way to compensate for the negative press that’s surrounded the production, essentially putting them there as a vote of confidence.

If true, it’s significant…

A "Subtle" Shift in the Marketing of Star Wars

On Twitter, I wondered aloud if Disney’s choice to debut the film at Cannes on May 15 had to do with the internal buzz at Disney/Lucasfilm; that the flick was so fun that a wave of positive word of mouth could be surfed into domestic theaters on May 25.

Rightfully, I was reminded that’d not been the case in the past and fair enough.

However, if this change in marketing strategy is a nod to Ron Howard’s production team and the actors on the bill, then we really could be in for a fantastic ride.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the whole piece. Beyond the marketing insight, I was thrilled by one more passage:

And The Last Jedi was disliked by many fans, despite being inarguably the best, most emotionally honest Star Wars movie in 40 years and yes, I will fight you on this.”

Tags

John Bishop

A graduate of Boston and Northeastern universities, John Bishop became the beat reporter for BostonBruins.com prior to the B’s 2006-07 hockey season. While with the Bruins, “Bish” traveled North America and Europe to cover the Black & Gold’s every move via laptop, blog, and smart phone. The co-author of two books, Bygone Boston and Full 60 to History: The Inside Story of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, John covered the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010 and the B’s 2011 championship run and banner raising before taking a faculty/communications position at a prep school outside Boston in 2013. He lives with his wife Andrea and sons Jack, Scott, and Luke in central Massachusetts.

Related Articles