Of course the latest Star Wars movie will be a mammoth hit, says
Geoff Glendenning, managing partner of Third Planet Marketing. The only
problem is that the hype will make us even more cynical and difficult to
please in future.
There is no doubt that The Phantom Menace will sell out. Speaking as a
bit of a Star Wars fan, a father and someone who works in marketing, I’d
say it sold out months ago.
On paper this film, and all the hype that goes with it, will be a
textbook example of successful marketing on a Biblical scale. However,
on a more subtle note, I believe that this level of massive marketing
hype can also have negative implications.
The main problem I have with the movie’s build-up is that our industry
never seems to know when it has done enough.
We should be on the quest to find the minimum amount of coverage to gain
the maximum exposure.
Unfortunately, our industry is mostly held accountable by the quantity
of coverage it drums up, not by the quality.
When you combine the PR campaigns of every company or individual
associated with the film and an over-populated media industry fighting
to fill pages and airtime, there comes a moment when Captain Hype can
find him or herself unconscious in the driving seat of a runaway media
The first sign is when you can’t take your kids to the supermarket
anymore without them getting hysterical because you refuse to buy them
every product with a Star Wars promotion. The second sign is when the PR
machine has worked so hard that it hits the bottom of the quality story
We know why it has gone this far. It’s because Hollywood doesn’t just
want to make movies, it wants to make a fortune. The hype isn’t for the
film, it’s so that they can sell more toys, accessories and
cross-promotions than ever before.
The trouble is that, particularly in the UK, consumers have spent the
past ten years becoming media literate and cynical. This means that they
can get turned off if you ram a message too far down their throats. If
the product fails to live up to the hype, then the short-term effect is
that people will become over-critical. The long-term effect is that the
consumer gets wiser and our jobs get harder.
Does George Lucas care? Of course he doesn’t. After all, we’ll still go
and see it - and the next one. We just won’t enjoy it as much as we
would do if we knew less about it, if its imagery didn’t make an
appearance in almost every aspect of our lives - and if we hadn’t seen
all the best bits already.