Saturday, May 4, 2013

[May the 4th Be With You]: Star Wars Day

Talk about a Jedi mind trick - Madison Avenue wants in on Star Wars' "force."

For years, giving quasi-holiday status to May 4 was a sort of inside joke for sci-fi types, a play on the famous phrase "May the force be with you." Fans dressed up, got together for movie marathons and horsed around with homemade light sabers. But now, marketers have begun appropriating Star Wars Day with giveaways, sales and other promotions. Has this viral phenomenon gone to the Dark Side?

Clothing store Hot Topic is debuting a new line of Star Wars-themed tops and dresses on its website and giving away 500 Star Wars cinch sacks to online customers, and toy company Hasbro is discounting "Star Wars" items by 20 percent on its site tomorrow. (Shoppers have to enter the coupon code SWFANDAY at checkout.)

Gaming retailer Gamestop is running a sweepstakes giving away a seven-foot Sith Lord statue, "Star Wars"-themed Xbox 360, toy light saber and flash drives.

Could Star Wars Day ever become too commercial for fans? "Feeling like it's becoming popularized may lead to a pushback," Berger said. "I don't think we've gotten there yet."

It could take Yoda-like wisdom to strike the right tone with fans, so it probably helps if the company has a "Star Wars"-friendly culture already.

"For our employees at our headquarters, we've actually got a 501st stormtrooper group coming into our office [today]," Gamestop spokeswoman Jackie Smith said via email.

"We're doing 'Star Wars' trivia, pictures with Han Solo and on our cafeteria menu for today—Boba Fett-ucine, R2D Tuna Sandwiches, and Crazy Catina Chili. Yeah, we're into it."

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