With Star Wars The Force Awakens utterly shattering box office records, the $4 billion investment Disney paid to George Lucas seems to have paid off. Not that the hype for the 7th entry into lightsabers and the Millennium Falcon was a surprise, given the sheer amount of hype. The Disney Marketing team should pat themselves on the back for the massive campaign which involved teaming up with Google to heavily viewed trailers. However it wasn’t only Disney’s efforts that ensured only those living in bunkers, stocking up on gunpowder and baked beans, could not have gone one day without seeing an X-wing fighter. The movie was a success because by the lead-up to the film’s release, social media sites were clogged with Star Wars related articles and videos, creating user-generated content.
The Rise User-Generated Content
User-generated Content in marketing speak is when users e.g. customers generate the content for you. It is usually, using your brand’s #hashtags promoting your product, comments in response to a blog article, or user reviews for your products. But it can also extend to deeper content such as self-made tutorials of your product or even articles indirectly promoting your brand. More importantly, user-generated content is trusted more than other traditional forms of content and has not only appealed to Star Wars fans as well as new fans.
Disney has made Star Wars the Force Awakens the most hyped up pop culture phenomenon in no small part to some significant Star Wars User-Generated content are
- Mark Zuckerberg, posting pictures of his baby and dog in Star Wars cosplay
- Spotify jumping in the marketing tie-in with Star Wars character tie-ins
- Barack Obama, bringing stormtroopers and R2-D2 to a press conference
Disney deserves top marks for their overwhelming marketing for the film, creating a buildup of content which has excited fans and has many popular sites such as Mashable, Cracked (and this one) to jump on the star was hype and create content around star wars for their readers. But the encouragement of user-generated content has always been successful for Star Wars.
User-Generated Content Creators are Fans
Great narrative works are great because they not only connect with fans on an emotional level but will also inspire fans to create their own art in response to it. From Fan art at DeviantArt to the 501st Legion Stormtroopers re-enactors, Star War fans have enriched the Star Wars mythos by creating an enduring fanbase that has shown Disney the potential of a 7th Star Wars film.
However it wasn’t just the appeal of the classic space opera trilogy of the original films which (thankfully the prequel trilogy didn’t kill off) that ensured Star Wars enduring legacy, it also included a veritable offering of the Expanded Universe, a media empire of video-games, books, comic-books, action-figures which enriched the Star Wars Universe surrounding the movies. All this was mirrored by Disney to create a near franchise of marketing material to encourage user-generated content for new fans.
In the same way, while good products/services that your customers will enjoy is imperative for success, (generating good customer reviews) great content marketing that offers a consistent and attractive brand, and continually and directly caters to your consumers will develop a loyal following who in turn will enrich your own marketing efforts with their own content. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch Star Wars.