Considering the successive generations that have enthusiastically embraced Star Wars as their own (I am counting at least 3 or 4 generations of fandom), it is no surprise that the Star Wars iconography would be put to good and frequent use to promote notions of good over evil…or at least to sell a car or two. Back in February of this year, Volkswagen used a child in a Darth Vader costume to endear us all to the remote control attributes of the latest in their fleet, and did so with great success. This commercial (on view below) had an immediate viral appeal with 5 bazillion views and lots of accompanying chatter about how exceptionally cute this mythological sci-fi fantasy about an evil father and his vengeful son could be, especially in a commercial and marketing context.
A few months down the road (light years for an advertising agency) Greenpeace, the pioneering environmental organization with a bit more pedigree than the Star Wars franchise, took issue with Volkswagen, not for their licensed use of the Star Wars imagery, but because of their alleged funding of lobbying groups trying to combat greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in Europe. People at Greenpeace decided to take the success of the Star Wars/VW marriage and run with it. What appears to be a sort of continuation where the original VW ad left off, Greenpeace has fashioned a Star Wars commercial of their own that presents a “force” to be reckoned with (see below):
For anyone well-versed, or at least semi-literate, in Star Wars lore, VW is cast as the evil empire in this one with the rebels (children in Star Wars costume) confronting the Darth Vader clad child (presumably a junior VW exec who holds power over the car manufacturers lobbying efforts) and the looming moon-like Death Star with VW emblazoned on it. Effective? Yes, somewhat but the momentum is pretty much ruined with the second spot, which takes the sentiment to regrettable heights (not unlike what happened to the original Star Wars franchise):
As much as I would like to support Greenpeace on their efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions, and as much as I refuse to see Star Wars as any sort of sacred cow, I am having a difficult time seeing the relevance of this campaign (other than getting people talking about the use of Star Wars to sell an idea). Sure it is cute and appeals to a wide spectrum of media savvy people, but on a PR standpoint, does it do anything more than get us to fawn over cute kids in Star Wars get ups? What is your read?