CAMPAIGNS: VIDEO RELAUNCH; Lucas empire strikes back

Client: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. PR team: Darwall Smith Associates Campaign: Launch of the digitally re-mastered Star Wars trilogy Timing: Oct-Dec 1995 Budget: Total budget pounds 1.5 million; PR spend less than pounds 40,000.

Client: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

PR team: Darwall Smith Associates

Campaign: Launch of the digitally re-mastered Star Wars trilogy

Timing: Oct-Dec 1995

Budget: Total budget pounds 1.5

million; PR spend less than pounds 40,000.



Each of the Stars Wars films Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and The

Return of the Jedi set box office records when first released and has

proved massively popular ever since. 20th Century Fox planned to

capitalise on the franchise’s popularity by remastering the films with

the sound system THX and offering a last chance to buy the ‘originals’

on video. As well as being recorded in THX each film would be available

in either full or widescreen format.



Objectives



To create consumer demand in the pre-Christmas market for the newly re-

mastered Star Wars trilogy in the wake of numerous re-releases in the

past. Twentieth Century Fox wanted to beat 1994 sales of 1.1 million

with a final one-off offer before the original Star Wars films were

deleted from stocks on 31 January 1996.



Tactics



The official launch party was held at Alexandra Palace on 11 October,

five days prior to the official release date. Carrie Fisher, who played

Princess Leia and Billy Dee Williams, Han Solo’s friend in The Empire

Strikes Back, attended along with nearly 700 journalists from Britain,

Germany, France, Holland, Spain and Italy. The centre piece of the party

was a replica X-wing fighter used by the rebels against the evil empire.



Over the following week, Fisher and Williams were interviewed around the

UK by the press, TV and radio. At the same time an ‘Imperial invasion of

the UK’ featuring Darth Vader and two Imperial Storm Troopers scared the

living daylights out of any shopper under the age of ten at 21 sites

around the country. In each of the shopping centres the X-Wing fighter

was used as a central attraction.



The Star Wars franchise was also promoted heavily in video shops around

the country with enormous point-of-sale, lifesize displays of the

characters.



Results



The total sales from the Star Wars promotion have been pounds 1.7

million, which equals all previous sales of the trilogy since it has

been available on video - far exceeding target sales of pounds 1.2

million.



The promotion received 82 editorial credits with a media value of just

over pounds 200,000. Star Wars was mentioned in 17 TV items, with

features appearing on Pebble Mill, Live and Kicking’s Electric Circus,

Central and Sky News.



Radio picked up the story 78 times. Five major stations, including

Capital and Piccadilly, took part in a themed Star Wars weekend

promotion. The equivalent media value of overall TV and radio coverage

is believed to be pounds 1.5 million.



Verdict



The popularity of the Star Wars franchise remains more than constant

even though the first film was released 18 years ago. 20th Century Fox

has managed to exploit the public’s interest in the series and possibly

introduce the trilogy to a younger audience. Judging PR success by

assigning ‘advertising value equivalents’ is questionable, but the sales

figures speak for themselves.



This all bodes well as George Lucas of LucasFilms plans to start

shooting the first film of a second trilogy soon. The release date is

rumoured to be scheduled for 1998.



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