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How brand partners tapped into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

December 18, 2019 | 6 min read

As Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the ninth movie in the mainline franchise hits cinemas, The Drum explores the brand partnerships created by Disney's marketing powerhouse.

Star Wars

How brand partners tapped into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

More than 40 years after the series launched under the helm of director George Lucas, it comes to a close with a stable of trusty partners, including Porsche, Bose, United Airlines, General Electric, McDonald’s, Samsung Mobile, General Mills and Danone.

Walt Disney Studios president of marketing, Asad Ayaz said: "As true fans themselves, these brands will deliver innovative and integrated programs that will delight and engage Star Wars fans everywhere.”

Lylle Breier, the global marketing partnerships senior vice president, said it was on the hunt for "best-in-class" brands that were a "truly organic fit". "This allowed for the development of unique and inspired creative."

The appeal of the franchise may well be in decline, around the flat reception to Solo and the toxicity around the divisive Last Jedi. Edward Bass, founder and director of EntSight said its research found that so-called fans of the franchise had been in "decline year on year since 2017".

He added: "However, the often heard story about interest in the franchise coming from nostalgic Gen X isn’t backed up by the global data at all, there's a surge in interest from younger audiences, and China, which is still relatively new to the franchise."

EntSight Star Wars

With the final movie in the latest trilogy coming to screens this week, The Drum looks at this "inspired creative".

United Airlines

United urged fans to 'fly the friendly galaxy' with a new safety promo video which featured a whole host of easter eggs for the franchise.

Whether passengers want to think about wars in distant stars while in a plane is another question altogether, but for fans, this is a definitive tie-in with some well-known droids among those who appear.

The tie-in also produced a campaign cross-promoting the movie and airline, with a United employee acting in the Rey role and posters featuring Star Wars vehicles.

Vote for this campaign in The Drum's Creative Works.

General Electric

GE is pushing its smart home services, GE Profile, by showing how it empowers users like the force. Like much of the creative, and the movies themselves, it focuses on the next generation.


Much like GE, but in Europe, Samsung Galaxy showed off the power of its devices with a cute spot about saving a Chewbacca-style dog. And there's a twist ending too.

Vote for the campaign in The Drum's Creative Works.


Porsche used Star Wars designs to inspire its cars with the all-new, fully electric Taycan.

From the spot, you get the feeling the license is worth the money just for access to the John Williams-inspired theme.

General Mills

The cereal brand has been a long-time partner of the franchise and tied it into its social good drive 'Do Good in the Galaxy' charity campaign. It marked this with two new limited-edition Star Wars cereal boxes for 2019 feature BB-8.

It also explored the history of its Star Wars cereals.


Coca-Cola Europe is pitching the light side against the dark side in a campaign to drive consideration of its 'Zero' sugar variant.

Globally, we've seen thermal detonator bottles and lightsaber bottles also.


Ebay is driving creativity and commerce on its site with the third iteration of its partnership with Colin Furze, who this time built a life-size X-34 Landspeeder.

The influencer is looking to inspire viewers to under Star Wars-themed DIY projects around the franchise.


Bose launched an audio experience in the Star Wars app. Listeners can put themselves in iconic scenes in full 3D audio. Of course the franchise has a history of audio innovation, opening in 1977 with cutting edge Dolby Stereo that helped hit home the soundtracks and sci-fi noises we've come to love.


Oculus is looking to drive consideration of its VR kits with a tie-in game. Any chance to wield a lightsaber is welcome.

Finally, McDonald’s created a Happy Meal with 16 exclusives, collectible characters, plus one of four Star Wars hologram images, and Danone is dressed up Danimals, YoCrunch and Dannon with themed toppers.

However, arguably the highlight of Disney's marketing output, was an unconventional tie-in with Fortnite that hints at the future of eSports partnerships.

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