The Star Wars franchise: Too much of a good thing?

By February 19, 2008August 19th, 20204 Comments

I saw Star Wars Episode IV thirteen times in the theaters. Thirteen. In my defense, I was 11 years old in 1977.

I know. I know. This raises a lot of questions, so I’ll answer them now. Yes, I’ve seen all the movies. No, I don’t know the names of most of the characters nor can I recite the dialog from the movies. Yes, methinks Jar Jar Binks sucks.

To some, George Lucas sold his soul when he released the second and third movies by licensing the Star Wars brand everywhere: lunch boxes, action figures, games, masks…you name it.

Some of it was so tacky it was cool:

I admit it. I have a Darth Vader bank and it’s “impressive, most impressive.”

Truth is, Lucas hadn’t even scratched the surface of Star Wars’ promotional potential. With his release of episodes I-III, he unleashed a promotional and product licensing orgy of unmatched proportions. The kitsch factor was unbelievable and even die-hard fans wondered if Team Lucas had sold out the franchise.

But the force was stronger than we realized with Lucas, and he didn’t pick every concept pitched.

Here are some of the concepts that Pepsi and Lucasfilm passed on prior to the release of Episode I in 1999:






Special thanks to my partner Bill Boyd, ABC who brought this to my attention. See more rejected products and learn the back story from Jason (ToyOtter) Geyer, one of the guys that developed about 100 concepts for Pepsi and Lucasfilm.

Recently, we’ve seen two very different approaches to product licensing in movies. The Harry Potter movies have followed the Star Wars lead, while the Lord of the Rings trilogy has done little in this regard.

What do you think?

Should an organization extract every available dollar from its brands? Is it irresponsible not to?

How does it impact your opinion of the brand long-term? Does it matter?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Stanley

  • Kevin Burgess says:

    Hey OM Denizens,
    Is it irresponsible not to? I think it’s analagous to some sports athletes like Tom Brady exclusively doing endorsements for just American Express (and only because his other teammates were doing it). He’s left hundreds of millions of dollars at the table by not fully exploiting his brand cachet. In interviews, he says “that’s okay”. I think it is okay. But back to the other end of the brand spectrum…Lucas did a pretty good job of squeezing profit from his stories. If not every concept went to market, it’s not a loss. He and his representatives probably chose the ones they thought would perform the best. I think that’s creative industry. A lot of good ideas get left on the cutting room floor.

  • Kevin Burgess says:

    of course, I’d still love to have that AT-AT chair caddy…. *sigh*

  • I must get the latest star wars theme on my Tom Tom GPS. Seems like It is wonderful!

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