The Force of Advertising: Return of the Jedi… Again

Advertising journalist Chris Saunders relives fond childhood memories of good vs. evil as a grown-up industry professional. 

by James Thompson

Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 reinvigorated Star Wars fans’ faith in the storied franchise. Just like Disney was able to accomplish with its production of many of the current Marvel films, like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars followers worldwide have been given new hope after the disappointing Star Wars prequels of the late 90s and early 2000s. And so the advertising frenzy over the new film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, has taken hold.

When I was a kid, my brother and I didn’t have much Star Wars paraphernalia, but it was quite a different story when we would visit our cousins in England. Watching the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V and VI, for the laymen) was all but a requirement and the extensiveness of their hoard of collectibles was impressive, to say the least. Luke, Leia, Han, Chewy, walkers, tie fighters, X-wings, transports, destroyers, the Death Star, and of course Yoda:

And Darth Vader:

Nearly 40 years later the franchise has survived and thrived through action figures, cartoons, books, comic books, graphic novels, the infamous remasters of the 90s and the even more infamous aforementioned prequels to follow. But let’s not forget in advertising, which in 2011 culminated in one of the most talked about Super Bowl commercials of all time. And cutest.

Though the verdict is still out on whether or not The Force Awakens will be nearly as good as the original trilogy or this Volkswagen spot, there is always the underlying theme of the Star Wars series: hope.

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