Opinion

Solo: A Marketing Disaster Story

After Scott Rhodie received a $77 ticket to watch Solo: A Star Wars Story three hours before anyone else in Australia, he was more than a little disappointed after he realised 400 of the 500-strong crowd were paid actors.

Disney launched Solo: A Star Wars Story in cinemas yesterday. The night before launch, I had the misfortune to attend a cluster of an event.

I’m a massive Star Wars fan, and have been ever since I saw my first film in the cinema as a four-year-old in 1978.

I’m always excited for a new Star Wars movie, and a good friend bought me a ticket to a special Falcon Formation event at Fox Studios. For $77 you got to take part in “something spectacular” and be part of 500 “specially selected crewmates to bring the iconic Millenium Falcon to life” and then watch the movie before it launched anywhere around the world.

To be part of the event, you had to be there at 5.30pm for the movie which started at 8.30pm.

It felt badly organised from the get-go, with so many people milling around and nobody pointing us in the right direction. Then when we were told to form an orderly queue, something weird was noticeable: these people weren’t Star Wars fans.

Two young, attractive blokes in front of us in the queue informed us that their agency had contacted them and paid them to turn up to the event.

A girl was told to turn up in something Star Warsy for the event and wore white. More and more of the fans I knew kept telling me the same story – hundreds of extras to make the event happen.

Huh? Surely you don’t need to pay people to attend a movie for the largest franchise in the world?

So a few of us got to chatting to more people and found out that out of the 500 people needed, they had only sold 100 or so tickets. The rest of the 500 was made up of paid actors, paid extras etc.

The day you cannot find Star Wars fans to turn up to an event is a bizarre day indeed. The 501st Legion would surely have turned up to see the movie early and take part in the event.

Everyone received numbers and were told to stand in a designated place, so they could film 500 people with light up things on their hand. A drone took images and video, to show all these ‘fans’ making a Millenium Falcon.

The guy using the loudhailer had a voice that managed to reach about four feet in front of him.

The Falcon Formation was a great idea let down by poor planning, a few rude staff, a long wait time, and the anger building from people who had paid to see the movie getting told they were standing in the cold with non-fans who were being paid to be there.

And don’t get me started on how they ran out of waiver forms for filming and someone shouted: “Just get them to sign on the back of previously signed waiver forms.”

The video:

I could save their advertising or PR team or whoever came up with the event idea by suggesting that next time they want to run an event maybe, just maybe, invite 500 fans to a free screening.

They will turn up in Star Wars outfits or t-shirts, be incredibly vocal and fun, and they will help sell your movie through social media. They won’t be complaining in the line about being paid to be there and about how much they don’t care about Star Wars…

The actual movie was fantastic by the way.

Scott Rhodie is a marketing manager and self-confessed Star Wars fan.

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