May the 4th be with you!
It’s Star Wars Day!
What if I told you that one of the biggest marketing geniuses in the world was small, green, and featured copious amounts of ear hair?
Yoda, the beloved sage of the Star Wars series, is more than a source of infinite wisdom.
I’ll admit I’m a total fangirl of this amazing (*cough* best *cough*) character in the undying classic that is Star Wars, but today I’m here to share that Yoda is also one of the most profound examples of marketing genius anywhere in the world of film, content, or television and an inspiration for any content marketer.
How, you might ask, did Yoda achieve this iron-clad status as one of the most recognizable figures in the world? The answer is simple: through a series of intelligent, calculated marketing moves that can be applied to content marketing just as well as they can television and film. And I’m here on the blog ready to break it down today. Nerds, read on!
Inspirations from The Greatest Story Character: The History of Yoda
Known for his funky style of speaking and quiet yet wise presence, Yoda is one of the most beloved global figures in all of film. In fact, if you said the word “Yoda” to any person anywhere in the world, it’s likely that the person would at least be able to conjure an image of a small, wise green man wearing long robes.
This is no accident. Yoda is iconic because he’s been designed to be iconic. Throughout the last 40 or so years of his existence, the people behind Lucasfilm and Disney (the new owner of Lucasfilm) have groomed the little green guy to be unforgettable, viral, relatable, approachable, and highly quotable, all of which have led to his widespread popularity.
— Yoda (@notrealyoda) May 4, 2016
To understand why the character of Yoda is so genius, you first need to know exactly what’s gone into making Yoda who he is. Here’s a brief history of Yoda’s existence and appearance in the Star Wars movies: A ripe 900 years old, Yoda is a member of a mysterious species that nobody fully understands. Yoda serves as a Grand Master of the Jedi Order and has dedicated his life to teaching young Jedi the way of The Force.
Before the epic Battle of Endor takes place in the series, Yoda joined the Jedi Order and mastered lightsaber battle. After dedicating most of his first 100 years to studying with masters of the Order, Yoda became a master himself and began to pass on what he had learned to younger Jedi.
For the next 800 years, Yoda dedicated himself to training more than 20,000 Jedi to fight for good and live their lives on the Light Side. While it may not seem like there’s much marketing wisdom to be gained from a far-out story of a small green warrior, every piece of Yoda’s construction was deliberate, and it’s been one of the biggest things that has allowed Disney and Lucasfilm to enjoy shockingly high ROIs year after year.
A Timeline of Yoda’s Original Appearances
In constructing an 800-year storyline for our wee green friend, the Star Wars franchise secured dozens of appearance possibilities for all of their characters, Yoda especially. Yoda’s major appearances include the following (scroll past infographic for timeline + film clips):
Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back: The Death Star has been destroyed, and Luke travels to Dagobah to train with the infamous Yoda, a renowned Jedi master. This is the first time audiences are introduced to Yoda and the episode in which his quirky yet wise personality is laid out.
Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi: The Empire is planning to use a Death Star to destroy the rebellion and Luke finally confronts his long-lost father, Darth Vader. Yoda dies, but not before proclaiming that Luke must face Darth Vader to become a fully recognized Jedi.
It is perhaps one of the saddest scenes in cinematic history:
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace: In this prequel, Yoda returns as a younger Jedi master. Set approximately 35 years before The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda foresees incredible danger in Anakin’s training as he leads the Council.
Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones: Broadcast in 2002, Yoda appears for the first time as a CGI character. In this episode, Yoda is the Master of the High Council and arrives just in time to save Anakin and Obi-Wan and defeat a former apprentice gone bad – Count Dooku – with his powerful (and astonishingly, almost hilariously, quick) lightsaber moves.
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith: In 2005’s Revenge of the Sith, Yoda pioneers the Jedi Council as they pursue the Sith Lord and helps guide Anakin when he has realistic visions that someone he loves will lose their life.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In 2003, Cartoon Network released an animated television series called Star Wars: The Clone Wars in which Yoda gets to work saving Jedi knights and protecting Coruscant from the Separatists.
Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles: A seven-part series that debuted in 2013, The Yoda Chronicles stars Yoda and follows the beloved Jedi through a series of adventures with his trusty Padawans.
Yoda’s Subsequent Appearances in Film, Books, and Clothing
One of the greatest things Disney has done with the blockbuster Star Wars series is to release specific character films, several of which are predicted to star Yoda.
While Yoda didn’t appear in the most recent The Force Awakens, the number of times he has appeared in household and lifestyle products throughout the last several years is downright impressive.
It is amazing how accessible Yoda has become and how this character has been integrated into our daily lives. For example, you can:
- Purchase a Yoda backpack for your child
- Decorate your home with an inflatable Christmas-themed Yoda lawn ornament
- Stand out at the coffee shop with a Yoda decal for your Apple laptop
- Jazz up your breakfast with Yoda pancake molds
- Enjoy your favorite music with Yoda earbud headphones
- And even dress up your Halloween pumpkin with a Yoda-themed pumpkin push-in kit.
The possibilities are truly endless. If you’d prefer to purchase a Yoda-themed toy that will teach you to use The Force from the comfort of your own home, you can buy a Yoda figurine from one of Disney’s many toy lines – a line for every film appearance Yoda has ever had.
The Genius of Star Wars Marketing
Despite the fact that the Star Wars Franchise was launched nearly 40 years ago, Disney purchased it for $4 billion back in 2012.
That’s a lot of dough.
The buyout ranked as the fourth largest in Disney history and, while many critics shook their heads at the thought of paying such an astounding price for an aging franchise, it’s clear that this move was one of marketing genius.
In a satisfying outcome that’s proved naysayers wrong, however, Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm has been one of the most lucrative business deals in history.
Here’s why: immediately after the purchase of Lucasfilm, Disney began branching out from movie tickets, into things like action figures, and even special-run branded coffee creamers. Today, major makeup brand CoverGirl has even drawn upon the strong female leads in Star Wars and launched a Star Wars collection cosmetic line that allows makeup aficionados to choose sultry looks for the Dark Side or airy applications for The Light Side.
While the Star Wars franchise has exploded in recent years, it didn’t take long after the merger for the cash to begin rolling in. In fact, just four days after Disney purchased the franchise, their shares were rising again and, since then, Disney stock has doubled in value.
One of the largest drivers of Disney’s insane success with Star Wars has been the introduction of upwards of 100 new Star Wars toys.
Since The Force Awakens debuted at the end of 2015, Disney’s Star Wars-themed toy sales (many of which were Yoda figurines and toys) raked in $2 billion, with Disney itself claiming a drool-worthy royalty rate of 15%. In addition to the success of its toy lines, Disney has also killed it with marketing tie-ins across a huge selection of industries. Brands like Pottery Barn, Adidas, and even Lucky Charms have unleashed Star Wars-themed products.
This example of dominating corporate synergy is a real spectacle, and it wouldn’t be possible without the popularity of Star Wars and its lovable cast of characters, including our favorite green sage, Yoda.
What Makes Yoda’s Character So Effective? 4 Key Reasons
Needless to say, none of this fame and fortune happened by accident.
Star Wars has always been very intentional about it’s marketing, and the creation of Yoda has been no exception.@ExpWriters shares how the marketing of #Yoda wins (just in time for #StarWarsDay). Be inspired!Click To Tweet
1. An ideal, well-developed character
For a movie character to live long beyond its original appearance in the film, it needs to be great enough to dominate anywhere— even other forms of content in the future. Part of what makes Yoda’s character so durable is the fact that it is endlessly unique.
From his wonderfully odd syntax to his what-the-heck-is-that appearance, there’s nothing else quite like Yoda in the universe of film, and this is one of the reasons he’s remained such a favorite character. When you think of it this way, there’s no question that Star Wars nailed it when they created Yoda: in addition to being the ideal character for the franchise’s earlier films, Yoda has also adapted seamlessly into more modern content. Since his original inception, Yoda has expanded into virtually every type of content available, including, of course, social media –
Yoda has his own Twitter account @notrealyoda, with over 129,000 followers – to products like shoes, clothing, and even food.
And wherever he is, we know Yoda by his outstanding characteristics: he’s never once lost his voice style (or shall we say, style of voice was never lost, once). Nor his wisdom, nor his greenness, nor his Buddha-like tranquility in expression. This is such a unique, well-developed, outstanding character, you simply can’t forget it once you’ve been in touch. Change your life, he will.
For anything to be long-lasting in the world of marketing, it needs to be accessible to customers. The reason that Yoda stands out as one of the best-loved characters in all of Star Wars is that he is endlessly accessible. Viewers can quote Yoda’s many lines and have used his likeness to create everything from fan videos to Yoda-themed cutting boards and baby hats.
This accessibility is an essential component of all long-lasting content, and it’s worked especially well to turn Yoda into the recognizable brand he is today.
In addition to being accessible and owned almost entirely by viewers, Yoda is a character that lends himself easily to hilarity. This is evidenced by the thousands of Yoda-themed memes that currently exist online.
Over the last several years, Yoda has been used to demonstrate everything from a snarky sentence structure patrol boy to an example of what it takes to become a “digital marketing Jedi.”
4. Likable and relatable
There’s a reason that Yoda claims a title as the 25th greatest movie character of all time, according to Empire magazine. Yoda is endlessly relatable, and it’s this trait that Star Wars viewers love so much about him. In movies as in content marketing, you can’t reinvent the wheel, and sometimes it’s wise to stick with the old standbys of relatable, exciting, lovable characters. Disney has done this by making Yoda a character that appeals to virtually all viewers.
Yoda: The Content Marketing Hero You Never Expected
While Star Wars aced it with many of their characters, none are as definitive and memorable as Yoda. Known for his funny syntax, infinite wisdom, and sick lightsaber moves, Yoda has won a spot in the hearts of Star Wars fans everywhere, and there’s no sign of this stopping anytime soon.
Thanks to Disney’s ongoing marketing genius, Yoda’s marketing prowess continues and the little green buddy keeps bringing in money, presence, and a loyal fandom for the company.
Yoda’s success wasn’t an accident, however. Lucasfilm and Disney built the character by employing a series of tried-and-true tactics that work in both film and content marketing. By creating a relatable, accessible, unique, and flexible structure, these iconic companies created a timeless movie character that has a few valuable things to teach us about good marketing. May the force be with you!
Express Writers Celebrates Star Wars Day (In Pictures)
You can bet your socks that everyone in our remote office is a Star Wars fan. 😉 So, we’re contributing some office pictures of our Star Wars gear!
Here’s my shelf in the office where quite a few Star Wars characters have a home:
Tara, our Content Development Specialist, also has a desk full of characters:
Finally, here’s a group of us with Star Wars gear on for Star Wars day! 😉
Are you a Star Wars fan? Let us know in the comments! 😉
May the 4th be with you!