Brand: Orange/Star Wars
Brief: Drive awareness of Orange's sponsorship of the latest Star Wars
Target audience: Orange customers and non-customers purchasing mobile
Media planning: Naked Communications
Media buying: Initiative
PR/events: Cake Media
Online PR: Way to Blue
STRATEGY In September 2004, Orange announced a deal with LucasFilm to sponsor its latest blockbuster, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. As all fans of light-sabres and Darth Vader will know, the film received its UK premiere early this week. It is expected to break box-office records as fans of the Star Wars series turn out for the final film.
Orange's UK agencies were briefed to take a global sponsorship (Orange deliberately chose the Star Wars film because of its global reach) and leverage it locally.
Naked Communications was the lead media planning agency on the business but the activity was kick-started with a PR strategy developed by Cake Media. Orange felt the sponsorship lent itself to generating a good quantity of press coverage so PR was chosen to launch activity around the deal.
Agencies also sought to capitalise on Orange's already strong association with film (it runs the Orange Wednesdays promotion and is the biggest spender on cinema advertising in the UK).
PPR Cake Media organised a PR programme that kicked off in February.
This included promotion of limited-edition Star Wars box-sets, sold through Orange stores, as part of the sponsorship. The old-fashioned approach of giving sets to journalists generated coverage in men's and gadget titles.
For extra impact, the agency sent Stormtroopers to radio breakfast shows, resulting in coverage on Radio 1's Chris Moyles show and on Xfm.
A major event was organised in April at Orange's store on London's King's Road to mark the launch of the box-sets. Advanced PR led to a queue forming outside the store on the launch of the overnight event.
Competitions that ran in the press included the chance to win a real Stormtrooper suit and a visit to LucasFilms in the US. These ran in 15 national, regional and magazine titles including the News of the World, the Daily Mirror and Zoo.
PCinema Orange is using its association with cinema and its "gold spots" (two-minute films featuring stars pitching their latest film idea) to support the sponsorship. Mother has created a spot featuring Darth Vader pitching his idea and threatening to use Jedi mind tricks to get the film made. The ad will run for three months in the UK.
PTV Use of TV was fairly limited but Initiative bought break-bumper spots around Star Wars-themed TV programming in the launch week of the film.
These included Star Wars: Feel the Force on Sky One.
PIn-store A key part of the activity is a Star Wars "takeover" of all 280 UK Orange stores. Until mid-June, Orange stores have a consistent Star Wars look to promote the association with the film and help to sell the limited-edition packages. Stormtroopers and other Star Wars characters appeared in the stores.
POnline Dedicated areas on Orange.com and Orange.co.uk flag up the Star Wars sponsorship and available products.
It's too early for the full results to be established but Orange expects to sell out its 100,000 box-sets across Europe.
THE VERDICT - Simon Mathews partner, Rise Communications
Some time ago, when eating a burger wasn't a felony, a friend of mine attended the opening of a new Wimpy store in Glasgow. While in conversation with the client, she noticed over the client's shoulder that some local lads had set about the avuncular, costumed Mr Wimpy and the corporate mascot was receiving the mother of all kickings. It's text-book thinking - dress up a "resting" actor and send them out to mingle with an apparently grateful public - but it doesn't always work out for the best.
At first glance this looks like good stuff. Given Orange's well-exploited association with film, linking up with the year's hot property makes eminent sense, as does using Star Wars content to enhance the product. The cinema execution sounds like reason enough to visit your local multiplex. However, from that point it loses its way with a bit of TV, a bit of newspapers, a bit of online and a bit of the former cast of Starlight Express mincing around as Stormtroopers, Wookies, Darth Vader and Master Yoda. Why - and especially in February for a mid-May film?
It appears as if a group of very capable agencies went off and did their own thing separately - no-one seemed to be steering the spaceship, which is a shame as the core conceit was good. Just because it's a promotion, you don't have to use newspapers and TV, even though that's what the text-book says.
Given the target audience and the quality of the cinema execution (which, I suspect, could work virally as well), why not focus online with phone-based communication helping to build traffic? This could have put Orange at the heart of so much more Star Wars content and consumer hype. And rather than merely a brief cameo in the King's Road, the ex-skating actors should have been dispatched to cover a galaxy of Orange stores with online intrigue hinting at the location of the next invasion.
Personally I would have loved it if they had done that because I'd have spent all week cracking the code so I knew where Master Yoda was going to pop up next. Then I would have gone down there and kicked some sense into him - just because George Lucas shot the films in reverse, it doesn't mean that you have to speak backwards, you irritating tosser!