Target is using the Force to connect with consumers this fall.
The Minneapolis-based retailer is unveiling a tribute to Star Wars fandom that features an interactive website offering users a spot in the galaxy as well as an in-store shop with exclusive merchandise.
As part of a partnership with Lucasfilm, Target will collect Star Wars memories, like lightsaber battles and Chewbacca impersonations, through a microsite called SharetheForce.Target.com. Users can submit photos and videos to the site from Facebook and Instagram in exchange for a unique set of galactic coordinates indicating where their memories will be housed.
After Target collects the submissions, Lucasfilm will archive the memories to make them permanantly accessible to fans. There is currently no set end date for entries.
The interactive effort, created by Deutsch LA, aims to shine the light on Star Wars fandom to connect with audiences from age 4 to 94, said Rick Gomez, senior VP-marketing at Target, in an email.
"Target has been part of the legion of Star Wars fans since the franchise began, and we aimed to create a program that captured the passion that fans of all ages have for Star Wars by inviting them to archive their own Star Wars memories," said Mr. Gomez. "It's something only Target can deliver and we hope fans will love it."
The push, which begins rolling out today, makes Target one of the first marketers to leverage the latest installment in the Star Wars franchise, "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens," in a major advertising campaign, but it certainly won't be the last. Brands are expected to flock to the franchise as the film's December 18 nationwide release nears.
"We know the world is waiting for the theatrical release of the new Star Wars film and we wanted to find a way to start the conversation through shared memories of the epic movie franchise," said Mr. Gomez. "We are excited to see how the interactive and sharable nature of the digital memory collection grows and expands in the months to come."
Retailers including Target and Kohl's have also promoted licensed Star Wars products in ads throughout the year.
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In September, Target will open a dedicated in-store space called "Shop the Force" where it will sell licensed Star Wars gear alongside an exclusive collection of Star Wars merchandise, inspired by fans, to be unveiled later this year. The retailer will hold midnight store opening events throughout the country to celebrate the debut of new "Star Wars: Force Awakens" merchandise and the retail space on September 4.
The "Share the Force" campaign also includes a 30-second online spot that debuted today, encouraging people to join the galaxy with a sampling of Star Wars fan footage. Other efforts, including a two-minute tribute film showcasing fans from 1977 through today and an online video series designed to help parents get their kids up to speed on Star Wars lore ahead of the latest film's release, will roll out throughout the fall.
Mr. Gomez declined to reveal the budget for the push, but said that it is a major priority for Target as it seeks to become the "go-to destination" for Star Wars fans leading up to the film's opening .