You may have just heard on the grapevine that there’s a new star wars movie ‘The Force Awakens’ and it premieres this week around the world.
And this one is different! Yes it’s the first proper sequel and one that features the cast from 1977 original but there’s something else. It’s also the first Star Wars film that is actively female friendly. The film’s director JJ Abrams has gone on record to say he ‘hopes mothers will take their daughters to see The Force Awakens in the same way as fathers have traditionally seen previous installments with their sons’
The movie is also actively placing more emphasis on female characters. The lead role ’Rey’ is played by young British actress Daisy Ridley, key villain Captain Phasma is played by actress Gwendoline Christie and even the ‘star’ droid BB-8 is said to be a ‘she’
All this comes may be down to the influence of Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, the studio behind the film, who has called on the industry to do more to promote women. Kennedy also revealed that six out of eight of the people involved in developing the film were women and that 50% of her executive team were female. “Having a balance of men and women in the room changes the story,” she said. “The dialogue, the point of view.”
And it’s clear the change doesn’t stop there. The launch has seen a different approach to brand tie in’s also. US Retailer Hot Topic has launched a star wars clothing collection for women, while Max Factor has partnered with the movie to create a line of limited edition Star Wars make up inspired by the film’s famous characters.
Interestingly for a film with such a demanding and passionate fan base, little of this has been met with any kind of resistance. Many of the films millions of fans have seen it being less about feminising the film, but rather creating a truly gender neutral movie. After-all the original trilogy placed the maverick Princess Leia at the heart of the story.
So if this kind of revaluation can take place in the biggest movie brand of all time then what does this mean for the future?
Well it’s clear that Star Wars has recognised the importance of the female consumer and that a more inclusive experience benefits everybody. After-all why limit the appeal of your brand? It’s also clear that they’ve done their research to help ‘do away’ with the stereotypes. There’s no pink ‘girls’ toys route, instead they’ve simply expanded the range of toys into different areas of role play and creativity across a much wider age range. Perhaps that’s why a recent National Retail Federation survey in the US found, for the first time, that “Star Wars” toys ranked among the top 10 that parents would buy for girls this holiday shopping season.
What is also striking is that the change isn’t superficial or for show. It’s been driven from inside, from the top, at the boardroom level, were women are represented and have a voice. Therefore it’s woven into everything the Star Wars brand does, says or makes, making it coherent and believable.
So is this the future or Science Fiction? It will be interesting to see how other brands react. Perhaps it’s time brands realised they could be doing so much more to awaken the force of their most important consumer, women.
Merry Christmas from us all here at Redshoe!
PS. Look out for our next mailing ‘top 5 tips to help you keep your marketing promises’ in January