Star Wars: The Phantom Advertiser

By Williams, Jason | Editor & Publisher, May 29, 1999 | Go to article overview

Star Wars: The Phantom Advertiser


Williams, Jason, Editor & Publisher


After a tidal wave of feature stories, contests, countdowns, posters, Web sites, and reviews leading up to the premiere of "Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace," the ad revenue for newspapers was an anticlimatic undertow.

"In some respects, we shot our own selves in the foot. News, TV, radio, no body really received a lot of advertising [for the movie]," says Dennis Lloyd, arts/entertainment advertising manager for The Boston Globe. Lloyd says they even suggested to Fox - the promotional gatekeeper for Lucasfilms - an idea for a 3-D display ad but were turned down.

The "thrust of their marketing campaign" would be to women's magazines, Lloyd says Lucas' camp told him, trying to capture a market not already sold on "Star Wars." Most newspaper advertisements were 2x10 or quarter page display ads, in contrast to competing movies like "The Mummy," which ran two full-pages in several newspapers. Lucas didn't have to advertise, Lloyd says, in part because of the months of coverage newspapers devoted to "Star Wars."

In fact, Competitive Media Reports, a New York-based company that monitors media advertising, says there was absolutely no Star Wars advertising in newspapers in April. May statistics are unavailable.

Rusty Anglin, entertainment ad manager for the Chicago Tribune, places less emphasis on the editorial push of "Star Wars" but admits that the media hype led to lower expectations for the film's advertising.

"Fewer films are going up against 'Star Wars,'" adds Anglin, which, along with the tremendous amount of coverage, would have lessened the need to advertise. "All of Hollywood is very conscious of how to market movies."

Sherry Jaffe, sales executive in the movie category at the Tribune says that "Star Wars" has potential staying power, though.

"They might advertise for a longer period of time," says Jaffe, adding that, like "Titanic," "Star Wars" may still be advertising well into the summer, where competition, and therefore the need to advertise, would increase. …

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