When you think of “Star Wars”, you might not jump up out of your chair and get excited. The George Lucas-directed movie that debuted in 1976 has, as we all know, grown into much more than just a space-age action adventure film. “Star Wars” to some has become a subculture and, to others, almost an obsession. Moreover, “Star Wars” is big business.
Since the launch of Star Wars action figures by toy company Kenner in the 1980s, the film franchise, story and characters have expanded onto school lunchboxes and Pez dispensers worldwide through a licensing group. Thirty years later, Star Wars-branded play sets have wildly boosted the profits of previously underperforming toymakers like Lego. There’s also a huge market in film DVDs and film on-demand, as well as collectibles from posters and costumes to specialty vintage items. But the business model has another side to it.
Much in the same way that the South by Southwest music fest has been transformed since 1987 from live music to a weeklong event showcasing new technology and consumer products, Star Wars has evolved.
Not Just for Geeks
Next week in Anaheim, California, the Star Wars Celebration takes place Thursday, April 16 through Sunday, April 19. Sure, the event sounds like just an annual gathering of Star Wars enthusiasts dressed like Darth Vader and Han Solo. But the Celebration is now in its 16th year and has grown to include an exhibition showcasing technology and every-day consumer products.
Some of the Star Wars Celebration’s exhibitors aren’t what you might expect, with big commercial names such as Johnson & Johnson, American Tourister and Hallmark Cards, as well as guitar and amp maker Peavey. Of course, the Star Wars Celebration is fertile ground for firms in the toy market, from the small, independent Star Wars licensee to Hasbro, who is also on the list of exhibitors.
Increasingly, both major corporations and the most cutting-edge new startups have begun to court their ideal customers through new and different means. No longer is marketing and advertising limited to major market TV and radio advertising. And, while word-of-mouth is still vital to any business, events like the Star Wars Celebration put word-of-mouth recommendations from one customer to another on hyperdrive (please, excuse the Star Wars term).
New World, New Venues for Business
If much of your natural market as a specialty advertising distributor tends to be traditional businesses — accounting and law firms, plumbing contractors, or retailers — then their marketing efforts may be more local and their advertising approach more conservative.
But one thing is clear: the stage is much bigger for business than it used to be. Also, the method for reaching new customers is no longer limited to offices and standard trade shows. At these new venues for business, promotional products remain a vital part of helping brands grow.
For distributors of specialty advertising products and promo products — the very people that Idea Custom Solutions partners with — the emergence of alternative trade shows and exhibitions offers a huge opportunity.
SXSW and Star Wars Celebration both provide their exhibitors the ability to reach new and existing customers face-to-face while also letting them sample products and take reminders of the brands home. And just because the convention theme might be music or science fiction, it doesn’t mean event promoters are shy about the giveaways. SXSW plugs promo product giveaways through its own swag landing page as essential guest info.
Whether your best new prospects and customers prefer to put their logo on classic items like pens, bags and wearables, or plan to rock out on more edgy giveaways at events like SXSW or Lollapalooza, you can add value just by talking to them about the variety of promo products as well as the many different venues available to them for business today.