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The 5 strangest Star Wars marketing partnerships

The 5 strangest Star Wars marketing partnerships Michael Estrin
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WARNING! There are spoilers in this story.


There are spoilers because it's been way more than a month since Disney released "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." In that time, the movie has done nearly $2 billion in global box office. "The Force Awakens" is a force to be reckoned with, but it's also an epic cultural phenomenon. So if this article somehow spoils the film for you -- well, at this point, that's on you.


Seriously, if you haven't seen the movie by now (and you still really want to), you should just close your browser, step away from your screen, and go. Just go. We'll be here when you get back.



Anyway...


It's not that this article is about the movie, per se. It's actually about the marketing juggernaut that George Lucas built, that Disney supercharged as only Disney can, and that we all embraced. It's an article about hot chocolate, fruit, laptop computers, and breakfast cereal.

Starbucks


Sure, the Star Wars story takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but even the Empire must have allowed for the occasional coffee break, right?


OK, maybe not. But right here on Earth, maybe even right at this moment, you can walk into a Starbucks and get yourself a Kylo Ren hot chocolate!


What does that have to do with the movie? We haven't a clue.


But who knows, maybe the real schism between Kylo and his dad, Han Solo, was that they didn't spend enough quality time together, drinking hot beverages and talking about life. Hey, Han had a rebellion to lead, and things probably got hectic, and so maybe he wasn't the greatest dad. But Starbucks? Well, they fill souls, and let's face it: Kylo Ren has a long way to go in that department. So this one is for you, Kylo!


HP


Let's face it: The Empire is all about productivity. Sure, it keeps building Death Stars; actually, it has moved on to even bigger, planet-sized Death Stars that kind of remind you of the O.G. death star, but whatever. The point is, the Empire knows how to get stuff done. Got it?


And that's exactly where the folks at HP come in, because they're all about helping you get stuff done too. You just have to be willing to "unleash the power of the dark side" with the Star Wars Special Edition Notebook from HP. And don't worry about the dark side being, you know, in the dark. The crackerjack team at HP has you covered with a Sith-inspired glowing red backlit keyboard. Pretty cool, right? Plus, the exterior comes with "battle-worn" design, so you don't need to wait for some rebel scum to blast your gear in order to make it authentic.

Fruit


Things don't always work out as planned. Just ask Darth Vader, who got nothing but grief when he tried to get his son to join him in the family business.


Well, as it turns out, Disney's decision to brand fruit and vegetables (no really, fruit and vegetables!) with imagery from "The Force Awakens" caused something of a consumer rebellion.



Not that Disney was acting out of anything but the best of intentions.


"Supporting parents by offering healthy, nutritious options for their kids is of utmost importance to The Walt Disney Company and adding family-favorite Star Wars to our licensed fruit and veggies portfolio is a natural extension of our commitment in this space," said John T. King, vice president of licensing and consumables at Disney Consumer Products, in the release.


But aside from the oddity of branded fruit, we call shenanigans on at least one of Disney's branding choices -- the grapes named after Yoda. Because let's get real for a second: Yoda was 900 years old! By now, we're not talking about grapes; we're talking about a wrinkled raisins.

Lucky Charms


It's hard out there for a leprechaun. Sure, General Mills has been using a leprechaun as its Lucky Charms pitchman for years. But do you really think a fictional gold-hoarder stands a chance against a bunch of Jedi Knights? That cereal bowl is definitely not big enough for leprechauns and Jedi Knights, which is why General Mills ditched the Irish charmer for the dark side. Thankfully, this is a limited edition kind of thing -- because while Yoda and Darth Vader are a lot of things, charming they are not.


Google


Only Google is as ubiquitous as Star Wars, and so it makes perfects sense that tech's biggest name would want a piece of entertainment's biggest prize.


Behold: the Star Wars skin for every single Google product you use!


Gmail? Check.


Chrome? Check.


YouTube. Check.


Google+? Check -- even if nobody actually uses Google+.


If you're a Google loyalist, Google's "Awaken The Force Within" tie-in pretty much allows you to skin everything you see on the internet with Star Wars branding. May the Force be with you? Of course it's with you, because thanks to Google, it's everywhere.


All you have to do is choose between the light side and the dark side. A year ago, before Google became Alphabet, that choice would've been weird. But this is a more mature tech company, and as we all know, Alphabet's destiny is anyone's guess ever since they dropped the famous "do no evil" mandate. But hey, maybe now we can find Emo Kylo Ren at a Google Hangout.


Michael Estrin is a freelance writer.


On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.


"Lego Stormtroopers" image via iStock.

Michael Estrin is freelance writer. He contributes regularly to iMedia, Bankrate.com, and California Lawyer Magazine. But you can also find his byline across the Web (and sometimes in print) at Digiday, Fast...

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