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Star Wars: Memory Marketing

I’ll admit, the release of the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens got me excited. Although I got more excited by the 00:31 mark than the 01:35 that has most people squealing with delight!

The power of the trailer (and the teaser before it) is the way it capitalises on our childhood memories to sell us the film. It is firmly rooted in a triggering of emotions for a specific demographic. It is tapping into our remembered fondness for the late 70s and early 80s (or indeed for the decades that followed as we passed on the story to younger generations and the originals became a staple of Christmas TV.) The fact that it can linger on a 14 second wide shot of a vehicle crossing a desert-scape in the far distance and an outline in the sand. That we get the chills when we only see glimpses of character’s hands. Or that we go nuts for one line from an ageing outlaw and his side-kick. It’s all memory. Wonderful, joyful memory!

Unlike the prequels, the new films can capitalise on the narrative that has already taken place. An image or a musical coda can transport us within an instant. And for those who don’t have the reference points, a newer audience, it then sparks a conversation, a series of questions and a direction to the original films. The passing of the story continues.

It’s all in the memory. The question remains: will the lived experience in December of this year compare in any way to the rose-tinted glow we see the originals in? Those of us who were there. I can’t imagine anything will feel the way it did to see the original back in 1977/78. My reference points were so few then. I was flawed, enthralled. Genuinely never having seen anything like it in my life. That memory, forged at such an early age, is so strong that the emotions get reignited in an instant. The trailer has a smattering of action scenes, just glimpses. But it’s power comes from its ability to transport me back to the age if 7 with the briefest of reference.

It’s memory based marketing, and it works beautifully…