Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Star Wars and Trans-Generational Emotional Resonance

The president of Hasbro's brand division coined a term for what happens when parents (well, primarily fathers) who grew up loving Star Wars or Marvel comics characters and shared that brand fandom with their children. The term is "trans-generational emotional resonance." Hasbro makes Star Wars toys under license from Disney, and it's a particularly lucrative partnership this year. Force Friday showed the power of the brand, and it's only the beginning.

The immense opening weekend box office success of Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens demonstrates the power of trans-generational emotional resonance. Disney says the new movie took in $248 million in North America alone. Worldwide, the movie generated ticket sales of $529 million. Both are records for opening weekend ticket sales. News coverage often showed parents and children attending the movie together, some dressed as Star Wars characters, some chanting dialogue from older movies in the series.

This latest movie is tweaking the brand marketing to appeal to females, by casting Daisy Ridley in the leading role of Rey. Will Star Wars: The Force Awakens, supported by star power and many millions of dollars in marketing, make Rey as popular a character as Hunger Games's Katniss Everdeen? Will it tap into trans-generational emotional resonance so that, 20 years in the future, mothers buy Rey merchandise for their daughters? Hasbro is in good position to benefit, because it has the Star Wars toy license until 2020.

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