The Dark Side of Marketing: Why You Should Brace Yourself For A Possible Failure

There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it?

Because every other geek on the planet is freaking out about it.

On December 18th of this year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters in the U.S., and people are completely losing their minds. Go do a quick Google search on the subject. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Odds are at the top of the screen you saw at least an article or two written in the last few hours detailing some newly acquired morsel of information pertaining to the new films. There’s a new trailer due out in the next week or so, and it’ll be butchered and analyzed frame by frame for weeks, I’m sure.

And I’ll be right there with you, reading every crack-pot theory about how, “John Boyega’s eyebrow angle at the1:27 mark shows an inclination toward the Dark Side” or how, “Mark Hamill lowered his hood, and what happens next is AMAZING!”.

We can’t help it. We’re obsessed. Here we are, mere weeks away from geeky salvation, forced to survive on the table scraps of trailers until the feast arrives. I mean, just LOOK at this shot again!

Kylo Ren

Admit it, you’re making the humming noises.


Most importantly, this will be a valiant and worthy expansion on the story we all know and love, furthering our understanding and thrilling us with new sights and sounds of a galaxy far, far away! THERE’S NO WAY THIS COULD POSSIBLY FAIL!!!

…Oh. Wait. But it has before.

Ep. I Poster

It’s like someone just cut one and walked away, right?


Sure, it’s easy to say that this time it will be different, how this time there’s stellar casting, fantastic directing, and insane use of both practical and special effects. But before the prequels, we knew all the same things, had the same hopes, and were just as excited. Why, you ask?

Fantastic marketing, plain and simple.

Painful as it may be, take a look at this promotional poster for Episode I:

Ep. I Poster Anakin

Who knew that pasty white kid would grow up to be James Earl Jones?


Set aside what you know about the film, and just look at that poster. It. Is. Incredible. Such a simple design, very, very little given away, but it speaks volumes. I had this thing up on my wall MONTHS before the film came out. It gives a new face to a character we had previously viewed as an ultimate expression of evil. They show a villain before the villainy, reminding us that there was a person there before the helmet. And that person was once an innocent child. It’s dark. It’s haunting. It’s a beautiful analysis of the human condition. And it’s JUST A SHADOW ON A WALL!!!

Fast forward to today, and take a look at what we have:

Ep. VII Star Destroyer

It’s MIND-BLOWING! But, is it any more remarkable than the image for Episode I? If you remove hindsight from the equation, I’d say they’re fairly comparable. Heck, I’d even go so far as to say that Episode I’s is a hair better.


Back Camera



What the marketers are heavily relying on for both of these advertisements is a little thing called iconography. They are taking images near and dear to the hearts of their audiences, and capitalizing on them to create a knee-jerk reaction from the fans. And it works. The first time I saw the Millennium Falcon taking to the skies again, that rapturous score blasting out of the speakers on my laptop, I was a puddle. I was weeping like a man possessed. Ask my wife, she saw.

And that’s what worries me.

In truth, I’m right there with most fans. This thing looks promising. Really promising. But, fool me once…

Moreover, there’s been a dirty trend in trailers lately that scares me a lot. They tend to show the absolute best from the movie they’re advertising for, leaving the other couple of hours of each film feeling like filler until you reach those moments. I have a feeling of Episode I came out today, it would show only the chunks we ended up loving about it.

So quick to forget, are we? Remember this:

Ep. I Darth Maul

…double your humming sounds…


Strip away the rest of this movie, and the fight scene with Darth Maul would have any fan passing out from excitement. And even after the fact, that was one of the coolest scenes out of all six films. Yes. All six.

If that trend holds true for this film… All I’m saying is that we should only be cautiously optimistic about Episode VII. With the Mouse on the reigns for this one, it’s clear that they think they have a winner. They’ve committed heavily, with products and advertising, and a whole new themed land in both parks in the U.S. That’s a lot of coinage to fuel the fire. It’s difficult to think that they would invest so heavily in something with even the slightest chance of crashing and burning. They’ve even gone so far as to include scenes in their new World of Color show at Disney’s California Adventure, prominently displaying the not-yet-released film as a part of their honored history.

There is precedent for this form of pre-release-establishing marketing. When the parks opened, the castle itself may as well have been a big ol’ poster for the not-yet-released Sleeping Beauty. When the park opened in 1955, Sleeping Beauty was still 4 years out. It’s a good thing that movie panned out.

Point is, all signs point to good for our galaxy far, far away. Just remember that we have been burned before.

Jar Jar Binks

There could’ve been a Jedi version of one of these… shudder


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