The Force Is With 'Star Wars' Marketing Partners

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May the marketing force be with you: That's the message from firms seeking to bask in the aura of the new "Star Wars" movie.


Scores of marketers and agencies developed licensing tie-ins as part of marketing and merchandising opportunities arising from the May 19 release of George Lucas' "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith."


Direct marketing agency Wunderman Chicago launched an all-family promotion for client Burger King, Miami, that includes an instant-win game. Each game card contains two rub-off spots. Consumers "choose their destiny" by rubbing off one of the two prize spots. The Burger King "Have It Your Way" prize pool lets players choose one of two prizes on the chosen spot. Both tags play off lines famous to each brand.


"The first strategy is to build on Burger King's heritage as the restaurant that lets you 'have it your way,' " said Tom Hansen, senior vice president and executive creative director of Wunderman Chicago. "The second strategy is to borrow equity from the time period's hottest consumer property, in this case the final 'Star Wars' movie."


Consumers choose from prizes like $1 million in cash, Lincoln vehicles, Sony electronics, $50,000 in a stock portfolio or savings fund, a $10,000 shopping spree, beach family vacations, video games, Burger Bucks and millions of free Burger King food prizes.


The first 5 million game pieces out of the total 140 million were inserted in the recent People and Entertainment Weekly magazines. The following week, pieces will be available in Burger King restaurants nationwide. Game pieces will be attached to select food and drink packaging items.


All pieces feature one of 50 characters from the entire "Star Wars" franchise. Burger King also offers four commemorative plastic cups with images from "Revenge of the Sith."


Burger King is using print, television, public relations, in-store merchandising and its Web site to promote the tie-in. The chain also is placing 3,000 15-foot inflatable Darth Vaders on top of participating restaurants.


"Our objectives are to drive store traffic, increase sales and enhance brand awareness," Hansen said. "Key to driving sales is offering extra chances to win the more a consumer orders: one chance to win with a medium value meal, two chances to win with a large value meal and three chances to win on king-size value meals."


Meanwhile, another relationship marketing agency, Draft Chicago, rolled out a trading cards and posters promotion for Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, MI. The Kellogg on-package effort lets customers at Safeway and Dominick's stores get a collectors' edition of 16 trading cards featuring "Star Wars" characters and battles. Albertson's and Jewel-Osco customers are offered a "Revenge of the Sith" custom book of four full-size, color posters.


Draft helped Kellogg put together a bunch of "Star Wars" licensees -- Keebler, Frito-Lay, Pepsi products and Masterfoods USA -- to develop and produce the trading cards collection. The partners are featured in in-store displays of the promotion.


Kellogg products tailored to the movie include the Star Wars cereal, Star Wars Pop-Tarts toaster pastries, Star Wars fruit snacks and Star Wars Fudge Shoppe cookies. Apart from these limited-edition products, 200 million Kellogg product packages will have "Star Wars" branding.


Several non-direct brands are involved in "Star Wars" licensing and merchandising, including Regal CineMeetings & Events, New York. The corporate meetings division of the country's No. 1 movie theater operator is working with 300 companies including Monster, Microsoft


and Juniper Networks.


Regal CineMeetings has devised 500 "Star Wars" events to help these licensees' sales and marketing programs.


For Burger King, the deal resembles efforts for the "Sponge Bob" and "Shrek" movies. A January tie-in with Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" show on NBC generated heavy traffic to the Burger King site at www.bk.com and also sold special burgers.


But the closest to "Star Wars" is the initiative Burger King ran involving last year's "Spider-Man" release. The company claims it had record sales increases last summer with the Spidey Sense game. This promotion asked customers to use their "spidey sense" to find a winning prize on game pieces. Each game piece had two rub-off areas, with a prize beneath one of them.


"We learned that by partnering with the period's hottest entertainment property and offering consumers an easy-to-understand, instant-win game tactic, Burger King can gain incremental share of the fast-food audience," Hansen said. "Consumers respond to companies who understand the contemporary culture and capture whatever's topical and exciting at the moment. Consumers have proven to be savvy about their chances of winning -- state lotteries offer $250 million every week it seems -- so Burger King found in research that consumers loved the ability to control their own destiny."


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