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Disney’s marketing ‘force’ unveils Star Wars toys

Disney is unleashing its full marketing “Force” behind the launch of hundreds of toys and other items related to Star Wars

Published: Updated:

The release of the new Star Wars movie may still be months off, but Disney is unleashing its full marketing “Force” behind the launch of hundreds of toys and other items related to the film.

The massive marketing blitz, which Disney has named “Force Friday,” spans all kinds of media and included an 18-hour global “unboxing” streamed live on YouTube. Meanwhile, major toy retailers planned to be open and hold special events when the toys first became available just after midnight Friday.

The marketing push behind “Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens,” is unique because it’s so far ahead of the movie’s U.S. release, 116 days to be exact. But analysts say it can work because Star Wars is such a popular franchise.

Leaked images of action figures of characters that have not even hit the big screen - like Sarco Plank, some kind of alien desert nomad that has only been glimpsed in a Vanity Fair on-set shoot - are only likely to fuel consumer demand, says Steve Pasierb, CEO of the Toy Industry Association.

“It’s pretty rare, but in the age of social media, you can get those characters out and create buzz around these things in ways that you couldn’t in the past,” Pasierb says. “There’s something easy to tap into, which is the Star Wars mystique which is some 30 years old.”

Even in a non-movie year, Star Wars merchandise has consistently sold well - $2 billion annually around the world, according to Pasierb. So it’s not so far-fetched that Disney will exceed that in the publicity-blitz filled weeks ahead of premiere of the first Star Wars movie since Episode III in 2005.