Posted by Tyler Hustwick 1 year, 9 months ago

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Like a boxer saving their hardest punch for the 12th round, the marketing world has reserved its best for last in 2015. Next week, the Star Wars franchise returns with the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film marks the seventh installment of the illustrious series and the first since Walt Disney Studios acquired Lucasfilm for $4 billion in 2012.

As its release nears, buzz surrounding the film and reboot of the franchise, has been seemingly inescapable. Themed products line store shelves, including everything from video games, toys, cereal boxes, makeup and cars. When it arrives in theaters on December 18, The Force Awakens will have already smashed box office records. As the film already sold $50 million in advance ticket sales a full month ago

The incredible hype surrounding the film can be attributed to nothing other than pure marketing genius on Disney’s behalf. Appetite for the film was stoked with a series of trailers, each garnering hundreds of millions of views. However, amid all the promotion, the studio has still managed to maintain an air of secrecy around the film, generating more excitement for what it doesn't show than what it does.

Moreover, Disney has been remarkably strategic in deciding on which platforms to launch content as it seeks to reach a new generation of fans who were too young or not yet born when the last Star Wars film was released in 2005. And while the studio is obviously using traditional media as a means of promotion, it’s digital presence has been tremendous. 

The film’s first trailer, which debuted last year on iTunes and in theaters, attracted 55 million views in the first 24 hours, and has been seen more than 150 million times to date. The second trailer, unveiled during a fan event, was live-streamed and watched 88 million times in the first 24 hours and more than 200 million times overall. And the third trailer, which aired in October during ESPN's "Monday Night Football, was seen by 128 million on TV and online within 24 hours of its release.

Disney has also tied together all of its assets to promote the film. In addition to the ESPN trailer debut, ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel hosted a special Star Wars-themed episode last month and "Good Morning America" anchors revealed new Star Wars toys while dressed up as characters from the film.

The studio has also carefully selected its digital and social media partners to take full advantage of new technology innovations. For example, the "Star Wars" Instagram account released a 15-second look at the movie in August, becoming the first video content to be showcased in Instagram's new landscape video orientation. Then in September, "Star Wars" let audiences speed across the desert as a launch partner for Facebook's 360 Video.

There’s no doubt that the marketing force is strong with this one, so don’t expect the publicity to die down anytime soon. And with three films planned through 2017, this is likely only the first phase in Disney's long-term plan for the franchise.

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