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The Force is Strong with Star Wars Promotion: The 501st Legion

The most impressive promotion going on at Comic-Con (at least for me) was what the 501st Legion had to offer. If you’re not familiar with the 501st, there’s a nice description of their mission at their website.

From Article I of their Legion Charter: “…The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work…

These Star Wars fans basically create awesome screen-worthy costumes, bring together fans from all over the world, and use their love of these classic films to raise money for charitable causes. Some of those causes include the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Boys and Girls Club of America, the Red Cross, Relay for Life, and Toys for Tots.

Every year, they have a Droid Hunt at Comic-Con (not sure if this also happens at the San Diego Comic-Con or elsewhere, but for the past five (!) years I’ve been going to the con, I’m pretty sure this has taken place every year.

The 501st Legion has a table with these lanyards.

Join the Empire!

These ARE the droids you’re looking for.

Simply follow the rules a printed on the back, and you’re entered for awesome raffle prizes!

Droids are adorable!

The closest you’ll get to performing a Jedi mind trick is right here.

So who benefits from a promotion like this?

1) The 501st Legion

This organization receives attention for their group by providing tons of wandering billboards with their logo emblazoned boldly on the front.

2) 501st Legion Beneficiaries

With increased awareness of the organization, people – especially the very specific demographic present at the convention – will also be inclined to donate toward the charities that the organization is benefiting or enlist the 501st services at another event. By the way, in case you’re interested, the 501st is available at public and private events free of charge.

3) Katie Cook

The artist who designed the front of this awesome badge is Katie Cook, an artist who specializes in Star Wars-related pieces. The convention is brimming with comic book artists, writers, vendors, and publishers; what better place can Katie ask for exposure?

4) Dorling Kindersley Publishing

You’ll notice ads for two upcoming DK Publishing books on the back of the Droid Hunt badge. Again, conventions have a specific demographic of people who would very interested in this type of book, so the covers are likely to get a lot of attention. My guess – although I do not know for sure – is that DK sponsored the production of these badges in return for that ad space.

5) LucasFilm

Say what you want about George Lucas, but the guy lets an unbelievable amount of fan creation based on his work pass under his nose. Even more, he endorses and supports it. (I learned this from a special screening of The People vs. George Lucas – highly recommended.)

What do you think, young Jedi Knights and aspiring stormtroopers? Does the 501st have a good handle on self-promotion? What do you think of the collaborative relationship with other artists and organizations? Are you going to get the special editions on blu-ray next fall, or are you waiting for the “classic” versions? Sound off in comments below!

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!

Jana

P.S.

I'll spend a week at a Binks family reunion before I recognize this Greedo shooting first crap.

Enough said. (Image and shirt from ThinkGeek.com)



Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.

Comments

  1. Chase

    YES! Finally, Star Wars and Quality Logo Products are in one Blog together! I think i might contact the 501st and see if I can have them at my Birthday Party! I have a small Yoda on my desk right now!~

  2. QLP Jill

    Sweet blog post, Jana! You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to use one of those 501st Legion lanyards… Many people don’t realize how many promotions actually work closely with notable causes.

    I unfortunately missed this promotion at Comic-Con this year, but I did see loads of clever ideas there. Did you see the Back to the Future DeLorean that was set up toward the back of the convention? Their promotion worked with Michael J. Fox’s charity for Parkinson’s disease (The Michael J. Fox Foundation) – fans donated $20 to get their pictures taken sitting in the DeLorean, and they also received a commemorative flashing Flux Capacitor pin! What a way to benefit charity AND give away kickass Back to the Future merchandise! :)

  3. KB

    Just goes to show, there is something out there for everyone! :)

  4. D-Rok

    Wow, I thought I knew Star Wars movies, but apparently not. When “true” Star Wars fans are around, i’ll be sure to keep quiet. There is clearly so much more to these movies than I realized. How many times must a person watch them to pick up on so many subtleties?

    Nonetheless, this event sounds like a very good promotion, and the name badges and t-shirts will make for very good promotional products. I must say, even the home-made costumes act quite well as promotional products, but only if you are at least somewhat familiar with Star Wars, otherwise you might wonder why there are hundreds of futuristic armored soldiers marching in the streets with laser guns (which probably have some specific name i’m not familiar with).

    Cool blog though, I was not aware this existed.

  5. Scooby DOO!

    Like this article, i do.

    May the promoting force be with you!

    Ps: I am bringing in my light sabre tomorrow. Be warned.

  6. Bret Bonnet

    I want a storm trooper costume for Christmas Santa – JK! :)

    Seriously though… Yoda is my hero.

    Star Wars rocks and hats off to George Lucas for creating such a powerful brand… A brand that is arguably stronger today than EVER before; even at debuting over 30 years ago!

  7. McFly

    Yes, nerd law states that I have to purchase Star Wars on Blu-ray next fall…including the prequel trilogy.
    *Sigh*

  8. Kat

    As far as Star Wars goes, let’s just say I’m not the biggest fan out there, although my father is. I grew up with these movies playing all the time in my home, but wasn’t quite something that tripped my trigger. With that said, I’m very impressed at the fact that organizations like this don’t just use this as an excuse to have a “nerd fest” (which is what I always thought). I love the fact they donate to charities and try to help others out all while enjoying their closet infatuation. But hey, I agree with KB = just goes to show there IS something out there for everyone!

  9. QLP Kid

    That shirt is awesome!

  10. Dean Plantamura (Legion PR Officer)

    Thanks for the mention of the 501st Legion! Yes, DK Publishing sponsored the Droid Hunt and helped pay for the badge printing (incidentally, DK donated $50,000 worth of books to the Boys and Girls Club of America earlier this year in the name of the 501st). The artists (like Katie Cook) donate their time and talent because they are fans of the 501st and generally very cool people. The 501st, of course, go out and interact with the fans for free because it’s fun and raises awareness of the Legion and its mission to give back to the community. Feel free to visit 501st.com and contact us if you have any other questions! Troop on!

  11. Joe

    Great post! The 501st legion seems to be doing some pretty sweet things!!

  12. Jana

    Dean,

    Thanks for posting! Glad you stumbled across this blog post and enjoyed it. I absolutely loved the set-up of the 501st operations, and I couldn’t resist writing about it. If you have any other promotions going on that you’d like us to highlight in the blog, feel free to drop me a line at jtropper@qualitylogoproducts.com. And if you need any other promotional products, I know just the place that would give you a sweet deal… ;)

    May the Force be with you!
    Jana

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