Disney: A Force in Brand Monetization

After nearly a decade of silence, Star Wars is back. From drugstores to fast food restaurants to many types of retail outlets, Star Wars merchandise is everywhere. Cups, candy, action figures, Legos, games, clothing, and food are just a few of the products that sport Star Wars logos and characters. Not only is this merchandise everywhere, but it also targets nearly every age.

The Walt Disney Company (Disney) does a fantastic job of providing audiences what they want. Therefore, when it purchased the Star Wars franchise for $4 billion from Lucasfilm in 2012, Disney had a plan to make the franchise bigger than ever. When it comes to entertainment, Disney knows how to satisfy its audience. With its award-winning movies, creative products, and spectacular theme parks, Disney attracts customers of all ages. As a result, it is one of the most well-known companies around the world, bringing in a whopping $52 billion in 2015. With its Star Wars franchise purchase, this number may skyrocket.

But how does a company make an already successful franchise even bigger? Disney’s approach is to advertise the franchise early and aggressively to a wide audience range.

Disney began marketing the latest Star Wars film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, more than a year before its debut. In November 2014, Disney teased its audience with the film’s trailer. It also began promoting the film via a plethora of merchandise, which was estimated to break $5 billion in its first year of the movie’s release. Disney also partnered with dozens of companies, expanding its exposure in territories outside the norm. For instance, Campbell’s marketed soup with noodles shaped like Star Warscharacters, CoverGirl developed a limited edition Star Wars makeup line, Duracell packaged batteries resembling movie characters, and FCA featured Stormtrooper-wrapped vehicles in its commercials promoting the film. These are just a few examples of how the Star Wars marketing approach is taking the Star Wars franchise to new, unprecedented levels.

While the Star Wars franchise has always been successful, Disney’s marketing efforts and promises of new outlets for the franchise helped break records with the debut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In fact, the movie reached more than $600 million faster than any other movie in history. It also broke pre-sale ticket sales of more than $50 million, a month before the debut. Along with aggressive marketing for the latest Star Wars film, Disney announced its plans for possible new Star Wars themed parks, a promise of a new Star Wars film every two to three years, and a potential television presence. With these promises and aggressive advertising techniques, it is likely Disney’s Star Wars franchise will remain one of the most valuable franchises for years to come.