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Phantom No More

By Jan 01, 1999

The only thing missing from this marketing event was a tie-in to the trailer. It would have been an industry first, and it probably would have gone over big. The initial peek at the new Star Wars movie, Episode I – The Phantom Menace, brought fans in droves to otherwise poorly performing movies at the end of November.

Only one thing is more surprising than people willing to pay full price to see a movie trailer, then walking out on the feature attraction (many reportedly passed on the chance to Meet Joe Black). Mega-partners PepsiCo and Tricon Global Restaurant Group (spun off from PepsiCo after the Star Wars deal was struck) missed a chance to link to the first piece of the new film. Anticipation for the movie, due May 21, is obviously sky high.

Secrets about PepsiCo’s tie-in plans are almost as hard to unearth as the movie’s plot line, but recent reports say the company may bring back the special cans that heralded the rerelease of the original Star Wars movies, and add some kind of instant-win game.

Tricon’s promotions are trickier because each of its restaurants – KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut – have to tie into the movie but make the overarching promo relevant to their specific audiences. The $50 million promo is expected to list each restaurant as a particular planet in the Star Wars galaxy with a collect-and-win game.

While the countdown for a new film has been going on since Return of the Jedi was released 15 years ago, the excitement created by the trailer spells good news for the film and its partners. After last year’s sure thing, Godzilla, underperformed and left some partners with excess premiums, both Star Wars partners have to be glad to receive some early assurance that the film will live up to its pre-release hype.