1997-1998 - 1999 - 2000 - 2001 - 2002+
Mass Marketing Menace
Doing some holiday shopping for Christmas, I visited several stores including Wal-Mart and Toys R Us that had HUGE supplies of Star Wars figures and toys from this past May. Some fast food outlets like Taco Bell are practically giving away the overstocked posters and is wasn't too long ago that we had the '3 for 1 super discount' cup toppers at the Tricon chains as well. Stores either seriously overestimated the demand for these products, or there was just too much.
Before we go too far, let me give you this. I like the toys. I bought the books. I've got the theatrical one-sheet on my left as I type. I even got soap with Yoda in the middle as a gift and a Qui-Gon with glow-in-the-dark lightsaber for my birthday on the 28th. But how much is too much?
The fact is, everyone went wild, jumping the gun on the hype and mystery of a franchise long considered abandoned until the strategic product revitilization of the early 90's (man, this sounds like one of my Bachelor Degree business papers!). And when the announcement was made that Lucas was working on the prequels, everyone jumped on board. Everyone wanted the Star Wars: Episode I logo and their products. Taco Bell/KFC/Pizza Hut went nuts and it backfired, causing huge overstocks above the demand.
Pepsi spent alot of money and put together a huge campaign. But the problem with the Pepsi promotions was that there was simply too much! It was literally everywhere. Combine that with the Tricon promos, an overabundance of toys and assorted items and it was overkill.
So will Episode II share the same marketing approach? Will there be "Star Wars everything everywhere" approach all over again? To some degree yes, but also remember that this second in the installment is the love story, and will be marketed as such. As the series grows darker to the climax in Episode III, expect the films to cater to the new generation of fans, as well as people like myself that grew up cutting our teeth on Star Wars toys and brushing those same teeth on C-3PO toothpaste. In my best estimation, we'll see a slightly different approach, more towards the teenage market segment with the high repeat viewings as well as the attraction of the romantic story.
Oh, there will still be plenty of toys, and probably another massive tie-in with Taco Bell, Pepsi and KFC, but chances are the days of mass marketing are over.
January 3rd, 2000