Brand force is strong with Disney India for ‘Star Wars’

MUMBAI: Even as Star Wars: The Force Awakens has set the cash registers ringing at the box office across the world, Disney India is riding high on the stupendous buzz created by the movie and has managed to multiply the buzz manifold by roping in 50 odd brand associations.

Disney India asserts that Star Wars as a franchise fits brands like a hand to a glove. The core theme is easily relatable to audiences across cultures as the film is centred around good versus evil. India too is no exception. Which explains why Star Wars is universally preferred by most brands from a wide cross section of industry with a varied target of consumer base. Disney India has collaborated with 50 odd brands, starting with brand integration, associated promotions to product and merchandise partnerships.

“There are few movies, if any, in history that can claim to have an iconic status similar to that of Star Wars. Its universal content appeals and entertains fans across ages. As the franchise is new to Indian audiences, we decided to start our marketing and brand associations and activations almost a year in advance. Our Consumer Products team has worked hard to get a record number of brand partners on board for the film. The growing buzz around the movie has helped us get many brands excited about the property,” Disney India MD Siddharth Roy Kapur tells

Of the 50 brands that hopped on to the Star Wars bandwagon, Maruti Suzuki India’s Baleno hatchback car and Hindustan Unilever’s Lifebuoy are the only two Indian brands that have tied up for the release.

“Apart from these, there are other brands like HP India, Subway, Duracell and whose global tie-ups with Star Wars have extended to the Indian market as well. Therefore, we see their visibility here,” reveals a source close to the development, adding, “the net worth of the deals signed by Maruti Suzuki and Lifebuoy with Disney India over Star Wars stands at approximately Rs 4 crore.”

While Maruti Suzuki has struck an out of movie association with Disney India, Lifebuoy’s is a media deal.

Elaborating on the nature of such brand associations Dentsu Aegis, psLive vice president Sidharth Ghosh says, “There are fundamentally two types of brand association for a movie. One is merchandising that allows brands to launch products and other services associated with the movie, and the second is movie tie-ups that lends the brands the creative rights to do co-branded campaigns on different media.”

Amongst the key brand associations Star Wars: The Force Awakens has done, several have launched an entire new range of products in tribute of the intergalactic saga.

Jack & Jones and Funskool have worked with Disney India to create its new Star Wars collection to celebrate the release of the movie. The latter released a wide range of merchandise including Lightsabers, action figures, collectibles, role-play toys, construction sets and board games.

ICICI Bank too couldn’t help but make optimum use of ‘the force.’ A tie-up with ICICI Bank Expressions Debit Card program is in place, which allowed over one crore consumers to choose from 16 designs of Star Wars characters from the original trilogy as well as Star Wars: The Force Awakens

E-commerce giant have plans to send out four lakh units of Star Wars branded jiffy packages to consumers in 25 cities for products across categories like consumer electronics, accessories and toys. Amazon has also launched a Star Wars branded shop on its site, which lists all products across categories. vice president - category management Samir Kumar said, “We have created limited edition of Star Wars packaging, a first-of-its-kind e-commerce innovation in India. We will be surprising a lot of our customers with this special packaging when they order with us online over the next few weeks. With our partnership with Disney we have combined the fervour of the movie with the trust and convenience of buying genuine memorabilia online.”

The most eye catching is perhaps what HP India has done for the movie. The company’s special edition Star Wars premium laptop and accessories includes exclusive SW content embedded in it. The company also set up zones in HP Stores where fans can experience the force. HP also roped in VJ Hoezaay to star in a digital campaign titled Fun Side Challenge, which went viral on Twitter.

HP India director - personal systems, PPS Ketan Patel adds, “HP is delivering an experience that is unmatched on a PC by giving customers exclusive access to rare Star Wars content so they can immerse themselves into the Star Wars universe. We are thrilled to be the only PC vendor collaborating with Disney and Lucasfilm to create a one-of-one-kind notebook for a great Star Warsexperience on a PC.”

Apart from these, departmental stores like Hamleys and Landmark are some of the other brands, which collaborated with the movie.

The brand associations for Star Wars The Force Awakens have been, no doubt, unprecedented. However, veteran media planner and Reliance Industries’ Vibrant Media vice president Karthik Lakshminarayan says it was expected from a movie franchise as big as Star Wars. He also rules out the thoughts of the brands cannibalising each other's promotion with hyper visibility of the merchandising products.

“Every brand has worked on the Star Wars fanfare in a different way and used it to their own understanding. While I do feel that for certain brands this tie-up wouldn't be that successful, most of them are a profitable deal, in spite of the theme being used over and over again,” he opines.

In India, the movie is slated to release on 25 December in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and some say that the delayed release may have set it up for an even bigger release in the country.

Giving more insight on the movie’s delayed release in India, Roy Kapur shared, “India is a heavily under screened market where we have only two multiplex screens per million people. It is imperative to plan a release around school holidays and overall festive period to give the film its full capacity. Christmas Day is a holiday all over and an ideal time for the release of this epic movie, for all our Indian viewers, which is truly one of the biggest franchises ever. Star Wars has opened to rave reviews and record-shattering box office numbers globally and we are now geared up to give Indian audiences a taste of this modern classic. To add to it we believe the global fervour around the movie will travel to India and will aid in ramping up the demand further by the time we release it in Indian theatres.”

Though Disney India took a chance with Star Wars’ worldwide fanbase, the studio didn't leave any stone unturned in marketing the franchise in India. In fact, promotional activities for the movie began almost a year ago. From branding across theatres and multiplexes for all top releases including PK to attaching a teaser with Avengers Age of Ultron, Disney’s ABCD2 and now Dilwale, Disney India had movie buffs covered, especially in the metros.

“We launched the franchise in India with a truly innovative year-long marketing campaign, bolstered by a record number of brand associations that provided additional visibility, impact and promotional support to the campaign. All this has not just kept the fanboys engaged with the brand but also helped introduce a new audience for the franchise all together,” Kapur states.

Counting theater activations during big ticket releases like PhantomBrothers and MI5, the marketing measures covered over five lakh fans.

From an experiential marketing standpoint, the Star Wars Lightsaber Challenge travelled to several cities including Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad with footfalls of 1,00,000.

With a build up like this, one can’t help but be drawn in the phenomenon that is Star Wars. Now it remains to be seen the box office records that the movie shatters in India.

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