AS I STOOD in line today at Best Buy, there it came, booming through the loudspeakers like an undeniable market force. Or rather, Force.
“Ever get tired of it?” I asked the cashier, of all that brass fanfare.
“It plays all day, so I stop hearing it– it becomes like white noise,” he said. “I wasn’t even aware it was on till you mentioned it.”
And therein lies one strikingly odd challenge for the Star Wars marketeers. When your franchise is so omnipresent as to induce pop-culture numbness, how do you re-enervate those overloaded receptors long enough to get record throngs to the theater — and the toy store — next month? In short: How does the Sales Force Awaken the masses again and again ahead of the seventh film?
Well, today, the commercial Powers That Be have done a nimble job with five character posters that stoke nostalgia while also stirring further interest in the rookies alongside the Wookiee.
Here, with full engagement ahead, is the Comic Riffs reaction:
MICHAEL CAVNA: Well, well, would you look at that: Five posters and barely a viewable right eye in sight! And slmost all obscured by each weapon of choice. So, we could read into this unifying visual theme some political message, like how Mankind does not evolve, but merely builds bigger and more deadly toys, and how war is always with us. Or how The Force also entails having to use deadly force in the first place. But mostly, for now, I’ll simply say: These five look sooo cool. What are your initial impressions, DB?…
DAVID BETANCOURT: We’re not going to get another trailer (although there’s no topping the last one). And anything new just adds to the mystery. These posteres included. I too love that everyone’s weapon of choice is covering their right eye — minus Carrie Fisher.
I can’t get enough of Kylo Ren’s seemingly uncontrollable lightsaber. I absolutely hated it at first. I was filled with fanboy rage as to why it looked so unconventional as opposed to the solid blue blade being wielded by Finn (possibly Luke’s old weapon of choice?). But now I can’t get enough of it. More than anything I am looking forward to being able to see underneath that Darth Vader inspired mask and learn who Kylo Ren really is. And watching Finn possibly take the journey from being lost and without purpose to maybe becoming a new generation of Jedi. … I should probably calm down.
MC: Your Midi-Chlorian count does seem to be climbing there. So about that Kylo cross-saber, from an art perspective: I like how it seems to burn emotionally red-hot and enraged, as opposed to former Stormtrooper Finn’s cool blue and Leia’s precise green. And now I really can’t help but wonder whether Rey is related to Han — and whether her surname is Solo — given the visual twinning of her weapon and Han’s blaster. What strikes me is how with each new bit of visual information, the hunger to decode only grows. I’m still as famished as a fan who can’t find the nearest Cantina. Do any other visual cues here pique your curiosity?…
DB: I wish I knew what Rey’s staff did. Seems like there could be some surprises with it. I also love the look on Han Solo’s face. In the trailer you can hear it in his voice that he’s a man that has been made into a believer. Gone is the young, anything goes, the force is a bunch of hooey kind of guy. He looks like he knows the Force — of which now he is a believer, and loving the daughter of Darth Vader will do that to you I guess — is awakening, and that some good, and a whole lot of bad, can come from it.
MC: That gets an interesting dynamic and transition: While Han may wield a weapon, it also seems he’s worthy of holding a staff. He’s not the hotshot pilot — the seat that Poe has inherited — but rather a shepherd who, in the spirit of Obi-Wan — lead Rey and Finn to, say, Jedi temples. He’s a grizzled mystic with a gleam in his eye as fiery as any lightsaber.
So, the big question for the marketeers: Which of these weapons will prove most popular — the biggest seller — this holiday season?…
DB: Kylo Ren lightsabers are hot right now. I was able to get my hands on one (which made Halloween a lot of fun) when they first came out, but if you were a last minute costume shopper towards the end of October, good luck finding one. The real star so far in the merchandising blitz is Captain Phasma. An impossible-to-find action figure that is going for twice the retail price online if you can find it.
MC: And that makes two desirable things I couldn’t find at Best Buy today, as John Williams’s swelling main theme blared: a BB-8 droid and a Phasma figure. Perhaps they’ll land with the next round of eyebait posters.