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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Disney using Pokemon Go style campaign for ‘Star Wars’ promotion

'Find the Force' campaign to roll out across 30 countries from September 1

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) will play a key role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lucasfilm
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) will play a key role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lucasfilm

Walt Disney is harnessing all of its media might to make the next Star Wars movie the biggest film of the year, employing augmented reality and social media in a global campaign to promote The Last Jedi and related merchandise.

Starting September 1, which Disney again dubs Force Friday, fans of the sci-fi films can use smartphones to take part in an augmented-reality treasure hunt, like the Pokemon Go craze that gripped video-game fans last year. The worldwide Find the Force hunt will take place over three days, starting in Sydney, and will involve more than 20,000 stores in 30 countries, Disney said in a statement Thursday.

As part of the campaign, Disney has created a smartphone app that’s activated by special logos that appear on cut-out figures in stores. Fans who turn up to buy action figures or drones from the new lineup of products can use the devices to discover characters like the alien birds called Porgs, pose with them and share the images on social media. Fans who post on social media can win prizes, like tickets to the movie’s premiere.

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“This campaign is on a bigger scale than the first Force Friday, both in terms of geographic scope and the number of retailers,” Paul Southern, a senior vice president at Disney’s Lucasfilm, said in an interview.

At its D23 fan event in July, Disney unveiled a smartphone-based augmented-reality headset, designed with Lenovo Group Ltd. It lets fans play fantasy games from the original Star Wars trilogy, like Holochess. Characters appear against the backdrop of whatever the smartphone camera is pointed at, making them seem real. Disney’s augmented-reality products coincide with a broader tech-industry push in the field in coming months, including Apple Inc.’s launch of a new iPhone operating system.

The first Force Friday promotion in 2015, tied to The Force Awakens, sparked a sevenfold increase in online sales of Star Wars toys for the month of September. The studio drummed up excitement for new action figures and toys with a global unwrapping of Star Wars merchandise on YouTube and coverage on ABC’s Good Morning America. The movie went on to become the top-grossing U.S. movie ever.

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