Star Wars: 'Nooooooooo'... five alliances that should have stayed in a galaxy far, far away

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'
'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'

The anticipation is almost over. 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' goes on general release at UK cinemas tomorrow (17 December), the reviews are rolling in and are overwhelmingly positive, and those marketing departments that have paid small fortunes to ally their brand with the biggest space opera franchise known to man can expect to see their ROI go stratospheric.

Or can they? To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi, will the Force be with them or will consumers feel a "great disturbance [in the Force]"?

There are a few examples of where brands tying up with the Star Wars franchise make sense. 'Angry Birds Star Wars' is an extension of a mobile game franchise set in the Star Wars universe. It won plaudits and sold in its tens of thousands. And the recent 'Star Wars Battlefront' is a video game again set in the Star Wars universe.

If you perhaps manufactured lightsabres, droids or Khetanna sail barges, then it wouldn't be amiss to sign a brand partnership deal with Disney.

But when a planet-Earth/present-day brand, with no obvious Star Wars synergies beyond some tenuous, manufactured association decides to align itself with the franchise, it's worth bearing in mind the words of Darth Vader at the end of 'Return of the Jedi' - "Nooooooooooo..."

We’ve compiled a list of some of the worst (both intentionally and inadvertently) aspects of the Star Wars tie-ups.


O2 saw fit to play on an oft-used quote from the original Star Wars movie, rather clumsily turning Obi-Wan’s "These are not the droids you’re looking for" into "These are the offers you are looking for…" It should be stressed that O2’s association with the film has seen the brand create a very high production value ad starring C3PO and R2D2, which is beautifully in keeping with the tone of the original, until the rather jarring brand denouement.

Sky Movies

The broadcaster has brought out a limited edition run of Star Wars branded remote controllers, one blue a la droid R2D2 and another gold like the other half of the robot double-act, C3PO. Just who’d buy the controllers, is anyone’s guess, but at least the fact that Sky Movies is currently carrying all six of the Star Wars movies gives the campaign a greater degree of relevance.


Now this is rather good, and we think it’s down to the fact that, unlike a lot of po-faced Star Wars associations, its tongue is firmly in its cheek.

Tesco tapped into the hysteria with a vegetable-led tribute to the original movie. The ads play on arguably the most famous line from the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy - "I am your father" - which Darth Vader utters to his son, Luke Skywalker, much to the latter’s horror. However, instead of being played by a costumed and masked David Prowse, the role of the Sith Lord is taken by a carrot, tomato and corn cob, with the young Skywalker played by a respective baby version of the veg.

Hewlett Packard

HP avoided intentional humour altogether, even deciding to eschew the franchise’s good guys and opt instead for the baddies. Its idea to launch a Star Wars Special Edition Notebook, saw the company boast, "You don’t know the power of the dark side". Nope.

The blurb continues: "Fully armed and operational, there's no other notebook like it in the galaxy. With a Galactic Empire-inspired design, commanding 6th generation Intel Core processor, and extensive collection of rare Star Wars content, you won't be able to resist the power of the dark side."

Perhaps HP could have resisted the urge to run this promotion, and returned it to the dark place from whence it came.


If this brand association were to be a character in a Star Wars movie, it would surely be Jar Jar Binks, that manifestation of George Lucas’s silliness and hubris (he was convinced Jar Jar would be a star, rather than universally reviled). Not that Covergirl’s makeup is atrocious, or hubristic, just that the brand’s line of Star Wars-themed lipstick and nail varnish is incongruous and arbitrary.

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