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Cash for content?

By selling Star Wars to Disney, George Lucas has officially made himself the most successful content marketer in history

How Gen X tends to see George Lucas

For Gen Xers (or at least, male Gen Xers) the world over, there is but one defining movie: Star Wars. Nothing before or since has come close to the thrill of sitting in the cinema as a seven-year-old and hearing John Williams’ iconic theme for the first time as the words A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away herald a crawl of scene-setting paragraphs up the screen.

Since then, there have been the sequels (almost universally loved), the prequels (almost universally hated), the spin-offs (almost universally shrugged at) and even the famously awful Christmas Special (almost universally laughed at).

And in the 35 years since the original movie, its creator, George Lucas, has gone from visionary hero to corporate sell-out for how he ‘cynically’ altered the original films and has kept reissuing them in various formats ever since.

So the news that Lucas has sold Lucasfilm (and with it the rights to all things Star Wars related) to the Walt Disney Company for some $4 billion will doubtless confirm in the minds of many Xers that, despite the justifications he gives here, he really has gone over to the Dark Side.

And yet it’s easy to forget that, really, Star Wars was always an exercise in marketing – and content marketing at that. Lucas was never the best writer (as Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo in the original trilogy, noted when he famously said of one of his scripted lines, ‘You may be able to type this shit, George, but you sure as hell can’t say it’), nor the best director.

He was, however, a brilliant content marketer – taking a proven (and actually very Disney) storyline of a young man’s quest guided by the wisdom of an older advisor, and using content marketing (films, books, action figures, all manner of other merchandise, websites and more) to sell it.

Merchandise has been an essential part of Lucas’ (content) marketing strategy

Effectively, Lucas has done what every brand manager and content marketer is seeking to do. So while he may have earned himself eternal opprobrium in the eyes of the original fans of the Star Wars universe, the content marketing heavens have officially seen their brightest star.


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