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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.