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