CommonSense Blog

May the Fourth Be With You

By Natalie DeNike | May 07, 2013

For Star Wars fans in this galaxy and beyond, Star Wars Day (May 4th) has become a key holiday to embrace the “inner nerd” within us all. Whether you queue up the original trilogy for a movie marathon or wonder if your mom still has your sweet Star Wars figure collection, it gives us all a chance to remember the story and characters that shaped many a childhood. That’s why this year I was impressed to see brands embracing their own “inner nerd” and sharing Star Wars Day themed Facebook posts to audiences. Examples of this can be seen for Slim Jim, Diet Coke, Chex Mix, Kit Kat & Oreo. To Star Wars fans, we know the power of Slim Jim’s light sabers and the Vader death grip image shared by Diet Coke and as a fan, I love it, but as an analyst it makes me wonder…

Via Diet Coke Facebook page

What do these brands have in common with Star Wars? What we’re seeing here is another example of brands newsjacking* holidays and current events for the purpose of generating buzz. It’s an interesting play, often associated with Oreo’s recent social strategy that inserts the brand into unrelated topics. However, most brands that apply newsjacking into their strategy are missing one very important element: the lack of product association with the topic. While the post may receive high fan engagement, does it leave a lingering product association with the audience? Let’s be honest, when I think about Star Wars I think about the Millennium Falcon doing the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, not drinking a bottle of Diet Coke while eating Chex Mix. The key here is for brands to talk to their audiences about their interests while still tying it back to the product.

Amongst these brands we see an example published by Oreo that takes the audience one level deeper and fills the gap between topic to product association. Oreo shared a photo of a glass of blue milk paired with an Oreo, referencing both the blue milk (or Tatooine milk) shown in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and blue Oreos once produced by the brand. The post prompted both movie lovers and brand fans to post comments about the blue milk image:

  • “I was just thinking about this last night, have to say I made memories with oreos that turn your milk blue. Bring these back!”
  • “In the “first” Star Wars Luke drinks blue milk with his Aunt and Uncle on Tatooine.”
  • “I remember those!!! When you dunked them, they would turn your milk blue!”

While the image speaks primarily to the topic of Star Wars Day, it sparked conversation amongst fans and more importantly it sparked conversation about the product. While maybe not a conscious effort by Oreo, this example does highlight the necessity for brands to connect with their audiences by creating content that speaks to both the current event and the product. This comes as a refreshing change from Oreo’s recent push of creative for non-existent products (e.g. Bastille Day cookie). As brands continue to focus content on obscure holidays and current events, I’m interested to see how social and creative teams shape the message to speak to their audience’s interests without forgetting their product.

Via Oreo Facebook page

P.S. Check out our VIP guest at our 2nd Annual W2O Mash Up Party below. The Austin W2O office mixed it up by celebrating Kentucky Derby, Star Wars Day, and Cinco de Mayo all rolled into one. (Yes, that’s our very own Bob Pearson with Chewbacca!)

*Source: Author David Meerman Scott for the term “newsjacking