Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Force is Not With You

With the release of the latest "Star Wars" franchise film, it seems every advertiser is falling over themselves to ride the "Star Wars" brand.  I do not think I have ever seen so much crossover advertising in my life, and in recent years I have seen much.  Everyone seems wild to "use the Force".

One supposes that the advertisers imagine that they score a great coup by obtaining licensing rites from a major film or some other "partner", but in reality the expense is a tragic setback.  Why?  Beyond the obvious costs of obtaining licensing rights our advertiser (a) spends valuable advertising time and space talking about the "partner" and (b) telegraphs the message that the advertiser's brand isn't strong enough without some help.

I look at these crossovers as a kind of drug.  The advertiser may feel good for awhile, but after the contract runs out, it's back to normal.  If the brand is suffering, the problem has not been solved.  Only a large expenditure was made.

As I have noted in earlier blogs, I am not averse to well-conceived and real partnerships between small businesses with a natural affinity (e.g. yoga studios and health food stores).  Is there a true affinity between a hamburger restaurant and a major movie?  between a pizza franchise and the NFL?
Bottom line:  Think hard if you, as a small business owner, are bewitched by a crossover appeal.  Remember that you're always going to be the weaker partner and that you may be doing more for the ostensible partner than yourself.  If the brand needs a lift, consider speaking with a peer or an adviser who can suggest strategies that are centered on what you do.

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